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L  I  B  RARY 

OF  THE 

UN  IVERSITY 

OF    ILLINOIS 

"R3GK. 

cop.  2. 


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ILLINOIS  HISTORY  SURVEY 
LIBRARY 


The  Ku  Klux  Klan 
In  American  Politics 


By  ARNOLD  S.  RICE 


INTRODUCTION  BY  HARRY  GOLDEN 


Public  Affairs  Press,  Washington,  D.  C. 


TO 

ROSE  AND  DAVE, 

JESSIE  AND  NAT 

-AND,  OF  COURSE,  TO  MARCIA 


Copyright,  1962,  by  Public  Affairs  Press 
419  New  Jersey  Avenue,  S.  E.,  Washington  3,  D.C. 

Printed  in  the  United  States  of  America 
Library  of  Congress  Catalog  Card  No.  61-8449 


Ste3  >. 

INTRODUCTION 

There  is  something  quite  frightening  about  this  book.  It  is  not 
so  much  that  Dr.  Rice  recounts  some  of  the  brutalities  and  excesses 
of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  or  even  that  he  measures  the  intelligence  of 
those  who  led  the  cross-burners  as  wanting;  indeed,  those  of  us 
who  lived  through  the  "kleagling"  of  the  1920's  remember  that  the 
Klansmen,  while  not  men,  weren't  boys  either.  What  is  frightening 
is  the  amount  of  practical  action  the  successors  to  the  Klan  have 
learned  from  it.  They  have  learned  not  only  from  the  Klan's  mistakes 
but  from  the  Klan's  successes. 

Fortunately,  neither  the  John  Birch  Society  nor  the  White  Citizens 
Councils  nor  the  revivified  Klan  nor  the  McCarthyites  have  learned 
well  enough  to  grasp  ultimate  power.  All  of  them,  however,  have 
learned  enough  so  that  they  are  more  than  an  annoyance  to  the 
democratic  process. 

Just  how  successful  was  the  Klan?  It  never  played  a  crucial  role 
in  a  national  election.  The  presence  of  Klansmen  on  the  floor  of  a 
national  political  convention  often  succeeded  in  watering  down  the 
anti-Klan  plank  but  national  candidates,  if  they  chose,  could  casti- 
gate the  Klan  at  will.  In  the  presidential  campaign  of  1928  between 
Alfred  E.  Smith  and  Herbert  Hoover,  the  Klan  helped  bring  the 
virulency  of  anti-Catholicism  to  a  fever  point,  but  that  virulency 
was  always  there  and  it  was  not  strictly  that  virulency  which  lost 
Al  Smith  the  White  House.  True,  Klan  propaganda  may  have 
helped  Smith  lose  the  electoral  votes  of  five  traditionally  Democratic 
Southern  states  but  Republicans  and  prosperity  really  dealt  him 
the  loss.  If  Daniel  Boone  had  been  running  on  the  Democratic 
ticket  in  1928  he  would  have  been  swamped,  too. 

Nor  was  the  Klan  ever  notably  successful  in  state  politics.  Their 
politicking  rarely  won  consistent  effects  and  often  resulted  in  abject 
failure:  vide  Dr.  Rice's  summary  of  the  election  of  "Ma"  Ferguson 
in  Texas  in  the  mid  1920's.  The  Klan  dissipated,  says  Dr.  Rice. 
There  were  too  many  politicians  among  them  and  of  those  politicians 
too  many  were  simply  stupid.  But  where  the  Klan  was  successful 
was  in  local  politics.  In  many  Southern  States,  in  Indiana,  Ohio, 
and  New  Jersey,  at  the  precinct  level  the  Klan  was  not  only  a 
potent  political  force,  it  was  the  electorate.  Whole  police  departments 
were  composed  of  Klansmen   and  the  municipal   committees   were 

Hi 


V 


iv  INTRODUCTION 

composed  of  Klansmen  and  the  mayor  and  the  dog  catcher,  if  not 
Klansmen  too,  were  dependent  upon  Klansmen's  favor. 

The  Klan  was  most  successful  when  it  espoused  Americanism 
rather  than  specific  candidates  at  the  state  and  national  level.  The 
John  Birch  Society  which  inundates  its  secret  cells  with  a  continuous 
flow  of  reading  material  learned  this  from  the  Klan;  and  the  White 
Citizens  Councils,  whom  Hodding  Carter  calls  the  "uptown  Klan", 
imitate  the  Klan  when  they  solicit  doctors  and  other  professional  men 
before  starting  their  larger  recruiting  drive  for  members. 

Why  then  do  they  never  succeed  to  ultimate  power? 

They  fail  really  because  they  themselves  become  a  national  issue 
before  they  can  create  a  national  issue  to  their  liking.  The  Klansmen 
loved  tar  and  feathering,  floggings,  kidnappings  and  night  riding 
expeditions.  Thus,  they  made  violence  a  national  issue.  The  White 
Citizens  Councils  did  not  move  to  disperse  the  mobs  which  con- 
gregated around  the  public  schools  when  the  lone  Negro  child  walked 
into  it  and  they  too  made  mob  action  not  only  a  national  but  an 
international  issue.  Because  they  are  a  secret  society  the  John 
Birch  Society  has  made  the  mistake  no  public  society  would  ever 
have  committed:  Robert  Welch,  their  leader,  called  Dwight  D. 
Eisenhower  and  John  Foster  Dulles  Communists  (to  my  mind  Mr. 
Welch  is  a  lot  like  the  old-fashioned  hoopskirt  in  that  he  covers 
everything  but  touches  nothing).  And  the  late  Senator  Joe  McCarthy 
became  a  national  issue  because  he  was  a  Republican  in  a  Republican 
Administration  and  while  I  am  aware  that  the  decency  and  honesty 
of  the  politicians  received  the  bravos  for  discrediting  him,  I  believe 
the  instinct  for  self-preservation,  which  runs  high  in  all  politicians, 
should  get  some  share  of  this  glory,  too. 

Dr.  Rice,  whose  book  is  economical  yet  inclusive,  offers  up  several 
reasons  why  men  did  don  silly  robes  and  masks  and  burn  crosses 
on  the  hillside.  They  are  all  cogent  and  I  do  not  wish  to  anticipate 
his  way  of  telling  his  story,  but,  in  conclusion,  I  would  like  to  touch 
on  one  reason  he  does  not  mention. 

America  was  the  first  moral  idea  among  nations  and  being  an 
American  is  a  heady  moral  experience.  It  is  so  heady  an  experience 
that  literally  it  drives  some  people  insane.  The  experience  is  too 
much  for  them  and  they  don  foolish  costumes  and  invent  an  equally 
foolish  nomenclature  and  yet,  possibly  because  their  wellsprings 
are  American,  they  manage  for  a  short  while,  to  terrorize  the  rest 
of  us.    We  had  best  understand  them. 

Habby  Golden 
Charlotte,  North  Carolina 


PREFACE 

The  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the  twentieth  century  has  been  a  many-sided 
organization.  Comprising  its  creed  have  been  a  half  dozen  or  so 
tenets.  To  carry  out  its  program  based  upon  these  articles  of  faith, 
the  secret  order  has  used  a  variety  of  political  methods.  Unfortunately, 
the  Klan  has  left  the  scantiest  amount  of  documentary  evidence  con- 
cerning its  activities.  For  this  reason  no  work  on  the  Klan — 'in- 
cluding this  one — can  pretend  to  be  truly  comprehensive. 

Contrary  to  general  belief,  Klanism  has  been  nationwide.  In  practi- 
cally every  state  of  the  union  there  have  existed  local  chapters.  In- 
deed, on  the  Pacific  coast  and  in  the  Middle  West  in  the  1920's 
the  secret  order  achieved  tremendous  power  and  success.  Nevertheless, 
it  is  a  matter  of  historical  record  that  the  Klan  has  been  predominantly 
a  southern  phenomenon.  The  brain  of  the  Klan,  the  heart  of  the  Klan 
are  stamped  "Dixie."  Therefore,  this  work  necessarily  lays  stress  on 
Klanism  in  the  South. 

As  used  herein  the  term  "the  South"  refers  to  thirteen  states — the 
eleven  states  that  comprised  the  Confederacy  plus  two  of  the  border 
slave  states  which  held  for  the  Union  during  the  Civil  War,  Maryland 
and  Kentucky.  While  the  other  border  slave  states  of  1861-1865,  Dela- 
ware and  Missouri,  and  the  post-bellum  state  Oklahoma  are  sometimes 
considered  with  West  Virginia  to  be  a  part  of  the  twentieth  century 
South,  Klan  influence  in  those  states  has  not  been  strong  enough  to 
warrant  detailed  treatment. 

The  period  from  1915  to  the  present  is  covered  herein.  Both  cere- 
monially and  legally,  1915  marks  the  beginning  of  the  secret  order  pat- 
terned after  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  Reconstruction  days.  In  a  sense 
1960.  is  of  terminal  significance  since  a  Catholic  was  chosen  President  of 
the  United  States  despite  all  the  efforts  of  the  Klan  to  prevent  his 
election. 

The  progress  of  the  author's  research  was  greatly  hampered  by  the 
Klan's  secrecy.  Moreover,  because  the  organization  has  been  discredit- 
ed, former  Klansmen  have  been  unwilling  to  discuss  with  outsiders 
their  recollections  of  the  inner  workings  of  the  order.  In  addition, 
the  personal  papers  of  ex-Klansmen  relating  to  their  activities  in  the 


vi  PREFACE 

fraternity  have  either  been  destroyed  or  kept  hidden.     Thus  writing 
this  book  has  been  far  from  easy. 

Happily,  many  individuals  have  given  me  generous  assistance — 
journalists  and  historians,  librarians  who  made  every  effort  to  satisfy 
my  requests  for  source  materials,  fellow  teachers  who  read  individual 
chapters  and  commented  thereon,  relatives  and  friends  who  gave  me 
lodging  while  I  was  away  from  home  doing  research.  But  there 
are  two  people  to  whom  I  owe  especial  thanks  for  the  completion  of 
this  book.  One  is  Dr.  Chase  C.  Mooney,  Associate  Professor  of 
History  at  Indiana  University.  A  critic  extraordinary,  he  always 
counselled,  never  prescribed.  The  other  is  Marcia  Griff  Rice,  my 
wife.  As  research  assistant,  grammarian,  and  literary  stylist,  she  con- 
tributed vastly  more  than  a  husband  had  the  right  to  expect. 

Arnold  S.  Rice 
Colonia,  New  Jersey 


CONTENTS 

i 

Historical  Background  1 

II 
Expansion  in  the  1920's  13 

V 

The  Klan  Enters  the  Political  Arena  30 


IV 
Local  Chapter  Antics  38 

v 
Statewide  Activities  58 

VI 

Debut  in  National  Politics  74 

VII 
War  Against  Al  Smith  85 

VIII 

Disrepute  and  Decline  92 

IX 

A  Splintered  Body  108 


References  130 

Index  140 


Chapter  I 

HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND 

On  Thanksgiving  night,  1915,  sixteen  men  motored  from  Atlanta, 
Georgia,  to  nearby  Stone  Mountain,  a  six  hundred  and  fifty  foot  dome- 
shaped  rising  of  solid  gray  granite.  Stumbling  in  the  dark  on  the 
steep,  smooth  stone  trail,  the  men  worked  their  way  slowly  to  the 
broad  top  of  the  mountain.  There,  braving  the  "surging  blasts  of 
wild  wintry  mountain  winds  and  ...  a  temperature  far  below  freez- 
ing," 1  they  quickly  and  quietly  carried  out  their  appointed  tasks.  Soon 
the  small  group  found  itself  gathered  under  a  burning  wooden  cross 
and  before  a  hastily  constructed  rock  altar  upon  which  lay  an  American 
flag,  an  opened  Bible,  an  unsheathed  sword,  and  a  canteen  of  water.  A 
sacred  oath  of  allegiance  was  taken  to  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights 
of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan. 

William  Joseph  Simmons  of  Atlanta  was  the  leader  that  night.  A 
month  before,  on  October  16,  1915,  after  hearing  him  outline  his  plans 
for  a  fraternity  patterned  after  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  Reconstruction 
days,  thirty-four  Georgians  had  put  their  signatures  to  an  application 
to  the  authorities  of  their  state  for  a  charter.  On  December  4,  1915, 
a  week  after  that  night  on  top  of  Stone  Mountain,  the  charter  was 
granted.  Professedly  an  eleemosynary  organization,  it  was  formally 
defined  as  a  "patriotic,  secret,  social,  benevolent  order  under  the  name 
and  style  of  'Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan.' "  On  July  1,  1916,  on  peti- 
tion of  Simmons  and  eleven  others,  the  order  was  duly  incorporated 
by  the  Superior  Court  of  Fulton  County,  Georgia. 

What  of  Simmons'  past?  Rather  little  of  his  life  before  1915  is 
definitely  known.  He  was  born,  it  appears,  in  1880,  on  a  farm  near 
Harpersville,  Alabama,  where  he  spent  his  childhood.  After  serving 
in  the  Spanish- American  War  as  a  private  in  an  Alabama  regiment, 
he  became  a  circuit  rider  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church.  After 
a  decade  or  so  of  ministerial  work,  he  turned  to  selling,  drifting  from 
one  job  to  another.2  In  or  about  1912  he  accepted  a  post  as  instructor 
in  Southern  history  at  Lanier  University  in  Atlanta. 

An  important  aspect  of  Simmons'  career  throughout  his  early  adult 
years  was  his  not  too  successful  recruiting  or  "boosting"  for  various 


2  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

fraternal  orders.  Fraternalism  was  something  quite  dear  to  him. 
With  a  measure  of  pride,  he  once  declared: 

"I  am  a  member  of  a  number  of  fraternal  orders  —  the  Masons, 
Royal  Arch  Masons,  the  Great  Order  of  Knight  Templars,  and  .  .  . 
[other]  affiliations  that  I  have  gone  into,  about  twelve  or  fifteen  in 
number,  in  my  lifetime.  ...  In  fact,  I  have  been  a  fraternalist  ever 
since  I  was  in  the  academy  school  way  back  yonder  and  I  believe  in 
fraternal  orders  and  fraternal  relationships  among  men,  in  a  fraternity  of 
nations,  so  that  all  people  might  know  something  of  the  great  doctrine 
of  the  fatherhood  of  God  and  the  brotherhood  of  man."8 

What  of  Simmons'  personal  characteristics?  Tall  and  lanky,  he  was 
auburn-haired,  smooth-shaven,  clear-eyed  behind  the  pince-nez  per- 
ched upon  a  prominent  nose,  thin-lipped,  and  deep-voiced.  Possessed  of 
a  spellbinding  rhetoric,  he  talked  like  the  old-time  revivalist  preacher 
he  resembled.  His  pleasures,  however,  were  anything  but  clerical  — 
horse  races,  boxing  matches,  "social"  drinking. 

"Colonel"  Simmons  —  he  gloried  in  this  title4  —  was  a  person  of  deep 
emotions.,  Whenever  he  read  or  heard  tales  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan 
he  seems  to  have  been  in  a  true  state  of  pleasure.  "From  a  child  in 
dresses,"  he  once  related,  "I  can  remember  how  old  Aunt  Viney,  my 
black  mammy,  used  to  pacify  us  children  late  in  the  evening  by  telling 
us  about  the  Kuklux."  With  wide  eyes  and  open  mouth  he  listened 
to  others  (among  whom  was  his  father,  a  bona  fide  member  of  the 
first  Klan)  tell  stories  about  the  Reconstruction  organization.  Late 
one  night,  in  his  twentieth  year,  while  he  was  perusing  a  newly  found 
book  about  the  Klan,  a  vision  suddenly  appeared  to  him:  "On  horse- 
back in  their  white  robes  they  [the  Klansmen  of  old]  rode  across  the 
wall  in  front  of  me,  and  as  the  picture  faded  out  I  got  down  on  my 
knees  and  swore  that  I  would  found  a  fraternal  organization  which 
would  be  a  memorial  to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan."  For  fifteen  years  Simmons 
never  forgot  his  great  vow.  On  Thanksgiving  night,  1915,  on  top  of 
Stone  Mountain  the  moment  arrived.  He  could  then  well  say:  "... 
the  Invisible  Empire  was  called  from  its  slumber  of  half  a  century  to 
take  up  a  new  task." 

Although  "Colonel"  Simmons'  Klan  was  to  be  a  memorial  to  the 
original  organization,  it  came  to  possess  a  wider  program  than  its 
precursor.  To  the  Reconstruction  order's  anti-Negroism,  the  twen- 
tieth century  Klan  soon  added  anti-Catholicism,  anti-Semitism,  and 
anti-foreign-bornism.  But  if  the  new  Klan  was  more  than  the  old 
in  program,  it  copied  its  forerunner  in  structure.  The  revived  Invisible 
Empire,  coextensive  with  the  United  States,  was  divided  into  eight 


■> 


HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND  3 

"Domains,"  each  comprised  of  anywhere  from  a  single  thickly  popu- 
lated state  (such  as  the  "Domain  of  the  East"  which  contained  only 
New  York )  to  a  half  dozen  or  so  sparsely  populated  neighboring  states 
(such  as  the  "Domain  of  the  Mississippi  Valley"  which  included  seven 
states).  Each  one  of  the  forty-eight  states,  known  as  a  "Realm,"  was 
further  broken  down  into  "Provinces,"  most  of  which  held  a  score  or 
so  of  counties.  Within  each  Province  lay  the  smallest  units  in  the 
Invisible  Empire,  the  individual  "Klans"  or  local  chapters.5 

The  Invisible  Empire  was  under  the  rule  of  the  "Imperial  Wizard," 
the  Domain  under  the  command  of  the  "Grand  Goblin,"  the  Realm 
under  the  jurisdiction  of  the  "Grand  Dragon,"  the  Province  under  the 
control  of  the  "Great  Titan,"  and  the  local  Klan  under  the  leadership 
of  the  "Exalted  Cyclops." 

"Colonel"  Simmons  was  the  first  Imperial  Wizard  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan.  As  such,  his  edicts  were  to  be  respected  throughout  each  and 
every  division  of  the  Invisible  Empire.  He  had  the  sole  power  of 
appointment  to,  and  removal  from,  his  cabinet  of  twelve  Imperial  of- 
ficers, who  were  known  collectively  as  the  "Genii."  No  charter  could 
be  granted  to  a  local  Klan  without  his  consent,  and  any  charter  could 
be  revoked  upon  his  request.  Moreover,  he  was  the  sole  formulator 
of  all  ritual  and  the  sole  arbiter  of  all  dogma  of  the  Knights  of  the  Ku 
Klux  Klan.  Coadjutor  to  the  Imperial  Wizard  was  the  "Emperor." 
His  job  was  largely  one  of  expediting  all  transactions  coming  from  the 
"Imperial  Aulic,"  or  sanctum,  of  the  Imperial  Wizard.  The  office  of 
Emperor  was  set  up  in  1922  to  satisfy  the  "Colonel's"  desire  for  an 
administrative,  assistant. 

The  Imperial  legislature  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  was  called  the  "Klonvo- 
kation."  Meeting  biennially  or  at  the  request  of  the  Imperial  Wizard, 
this  body  was  composed  of  the  Imperial  Wizard,  the  Emperor,  the 
Genii,  and  the  presiding  officer  of  each  subdivision  of  the  Invisible 
Empire.  Advising  the  Imperial  Wizard  and  the  Klonvokation  was 
the  "Kloncilium."  Assembling  annually  or  during  an  emergency  in 
a  special  session  called  by  the  Imperial  Wizard,  the  Kloncilium  con- 
sisted of  the  Genii  and  any  other  Klansmen  asked  to  serve.  Primarily 
a  judicial  body,  the  Kloncilium  could  also  act  legislatively  whenever 
the  Klonvokation  was  not  in  session. 

Because  the  constitution  of  the  Klan  provided  no  clear  definition 
of  the  particular  duties  and  prerogatives  of  the  three  organs  of  the 
Imperial  division  —  the  Imperial  Wizard  and  his  Genii,  the  Klonvoka- 
tion, and  the  Kloncilium  —  confusion  and  conflict  existed  during  the 
reign  of  Imperial  Wizard  Simmons.     As  the  reign  of  Simmons'  sue- 


4  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

cessor  wore  on,  both  the  Klonvokation  and  Kloncilium  became  merely 
the  extended  arm  of  the  Imperial  Wizard. 

With  each  Domain  doing  little  besides  existing  on  paper,  and  with 
its  Grand  Goblin  being  little  more  than  a  sinecurist,  the  first  important 
subdivision  below  the  Imperial  sphere  was  the  Realm  with  its  Grand 
Dragon.  Each  Grand  Dragon  was  the  Imperial  Wizard's  personal  rep- 
resentative in  the  Realm,  appointed  by  him  and  removed  at  his  will. 
Assisting  each  Grand  Dragon  in  carrying  out  unhesitatingly  the  com- 
mands of  the  Imperial  Wizard  was  a  council  of  nine,  known  collec- 
tively as  the  "Hydras." 

One  of  the  Grand  Dragon's  powers  was  to  subdivide  his  Realm 
into  Provinces  and  to  appoint,  without  confirmation  from  his  superiors, 
a  Great  Titan  to  each.  Attached  to  the  presiding  officer  of  each 
Province  was  a  group  of  seven  advisors,  the  "Furies."  Set  up  for 
recruitment  purposes,  the  Province  was  permitted  to  exist  long  after 
it  had  fulfilled  its  original  function.  Occupying  the  layer  it  did  in  the 
strata  of  authority  within  the  Invisible  Empire,  the  vestigial  Province 
prevented  direct  contact  between  the  Realm  officers  and  the  local 
Klans,  a  situation  quite  detrimental  to  the  efficient  execution  of  Im- 
perial decrees  in  the  farthest  reaches  of  the  Invisible  Empire. 

Members  of  the  local  Klan,  with  the  consent  of  both  the  Great  Titan 
and  the  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Province  and  the  Realm  directly  con- 
cerned, elected  their  own  officers.  They  were,  in  addition  to  the 
Exalted  Cyclops,  eleven  "Terrors,"  the  "Klaliff"  (Vice-President), 
the  "Klokard"  (Lecturer),  the  "Kludd"  (Chaplain),  the  "Kligrapp" 
(Secretary),  the  "Klabee"  (Treasurer),  the  "Kladd"  (Conductor  of 
members  into  the  meeting),  the  "Klarogo"  (Inner  Guard  of  the  meet- 
ing), the  "Klexter"  (Outer  Guard  of  the  meeting),  and  the  three 
"Klokann"  (a  Board  of  Investigators,  Auditors,  and  Advisors,  each 
member  of  which  bore  the  title  "Klokan"). 

The  meeting  place  of  a  local  Klan  was  called  the  "Klavern."  Any 
room  could  serve  as  such  if  it  were  properly  decked  out  with  an  altar 
upon  which  lay  an  American  flag  (to  show  the  patriotism  of  those 
present),  a  Bible  open  at  Romans  XII  (as  a  guide  to  the  Christian  life), 
an  unsheathed  sword  ( representing  the  determination  to  overcome  the 
obstacles  to  Christian  living),  and  a  container  of  water  (the  contents 
of  which  were  sprinkled  upon  initiates  to  rid  them  of  "alien"  defile- 
ment), and  if  it  were  illuminated  by  a  "fiery  cross"  (best  known  symbol 
of  the  organization,  made  usually  of  wood  and  electric  light  bulbs, 
which  was  said  to  have  been  inspired  by  the  burning  crosses  that 
rallied  the  Scottish  clans).    The  Klan  was  required  to  hold  a  meeting, 


HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND  5 

called  a  "Klonldave,"  at  least  once  a  month,  with  six  "Knights"  ( mem- 
bers of  the  order)  constituting  a  quorum.  Each  meeting  was  con- 
ducted according  to  the  order  set  forth  in  the  "Kloran,"  the  official 
manual  on  Klonldave  procedure.  To  outsiders  the  rubric  of  the  Klon- 
ldave would  certainly  have  appeared  tiresomely  long;  the  opening 
ceremony,  for  example,  filled  eight  closely  printed  pages  of  the  Kloran, 
while  the  closing  ceremony  filled  five.9 

Four  years  before  that  Thanksgiving  night  on  top  of  Stone  Mountain, 
"Colonel"  Simmons,  confined  to  his  bed  following  an  automobile  ac- 
cident, had  ample  time  to  ruminate  about  other  aspects  of  his  dream 
organization  besides  its  native-born,  white,  Protestant  philosophy  and 
subdivisional  structure.  Indeed,  while  he  lay  bedridden  for  three 
months  he  was  able  to  work  out  most  of  the  details  for  the  costume 
consisting  of  the  peaked  hood  and  robe,  the  various  emblems  and 
tokens,7  the  placing  of  the  letters  "Kl"  in  front  of  every  title,  the  ritual 
of  the  local  Klan  meeting,  and  the  motto,  "Non  Silba  Sed  Anthar."8 

For  the  first  few  years  after  receiving  its  charter,  the  Klan  had  an 
uneventful,  if  not  precarious,  existence.  Dogged  by  a  lack  of  financial 
backing  and  only  half-hearted  co-operation  from  his  fellow  Knights, 
Imperial  Wizard  Simmons  carried  on  almost  single-handed.  It  was 
he  who  did  the  recruiting,  saw  to  the  advertising,  arranged  for  the 
production  of  regalia,  and  drafted  the  constitution.9  Of  those  early 
years  of  adversity,  the  "Colonel"  was  wont  to  reminisce  aloud — and 
none  too  modestly  —  of  his  perseverance: 

".  .  .  the  work  was  a  tremendous  struggle,  made  more  arduous  by  a 
traitor  in  our  ranks  who  held  under  me  a  position  of  trust,  who  em- 
bezzled all  of  our  accumulated  funds  in  the  summer  of  1916  .  .  .  The 
treacherous  conduct  of  this  man  left  me  penniless,  with  a  large  ac- 
cumulation of  debts  against  the  order.  I  was  advised  to  give  it  up 
by  many,  but  I  felt  and  knew  that  my  honor  was  at  stake.  ...  I  was 
forced  to  mortgage  my  home  in  order  to  get  money  with  which  to  carry 
on  .  .  .  the  work  we  had  to  do. 

"During  all  this  time  of  dread  and  darkness,  I  virtually  stood  alone, 
but  remaining  true  to  the  dictates  of  unsullied  honor,  I  steered  the 
infant  organization  through  dangerous  channels  and  finally  succeeded 
in  making  good.  .  .  .  ,no 

At  the  beginning  of  1920  there  were  but  a  few  chapters  scattered 
throughout  the  South,  most  of  them  in  Alabama  and  Georgia,  with  a 
probable  total  membership  well  under  2,000.  The  organized  activity 
of  these  local  Klans  up  to  this  time  had  been  quite  sporadic.  In  Mobile, 
in  the  summer  of  1918,  for  example,  Klansmen  as  a  body  spoke  out 


6  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

against  a  shipyard  strike  and  hunted  out  draft  dodgers;  in  Birmingham, 
in  1919,  they  demanded  greater  police  action  against  the  criminal 
elements  of  the  city;  in  Atlanta,  in  1919,  they  marched  in  the  parade  at 
the  reunion  of  Confederate  Veterans,  and  at  the  beginning  of  the 
following  year  met  to  celebrate  the  adoption  of  the  Eighteenth 
(Prohibition)    Amendment   to   the   Constitution. 

Such  slow  growth  was  due  in  large  part  to  the  lack  of  the  right  kind 
of  leadership  in  the  highest  echelon  of  authority.  Simmons  did  have 
faith — he  "actually  went  hungry  in  order  that  the  bills  of  the  Klan 
might  be  met";  he  simply  did  not  have  a  head  for  business  enterprise. 
The  Imperial  Wizard  was,  in  other  words,  little  more  than  a  dreamer. 
One  who  studies  the  early  history  of  the  Klan  finds  himself  readily 
assenting  to  the  point  of  view  of  a  well-known  contemporary  reporter 
of  the  order  that  "had  the  propagation  of  the  Klan  remained  in  Colonel 
Simmons'  hands,  it  is  fairly  certain  that  the  organization  would  never 
have  attained  large  dimensions  or  become  a  national  problem." 

The  expansion  of  the  Klan  began  in  1920,  the  year  of  its  reorgani- 
zation. On  June  7  of  that  year  Simmons,  after  finally  recognizing 
his  limitations,  signed  a  contract  with  a  thoroughly  experienced  pro- 
moter of  money  drives  and  a  master  of  publicity,  Edward  Young 
Clarke  of  Atlanta.  Before  Clarke  jonied  forces  with  the  "Colonel," 
he  had  been  at  various  times  a  reporter  for  the  Atlanta  Constitution,  a 
solicitor  for  the  Woodmen  of  the  World  ( although  Simmons  had  been 
similarly  engaged,  the  two  did  not  meet  until  the  beginning  of  1920), 
and  a  worker  for  the  war-fund  campaigns  of  World  War  I.  According 
to  the  contract,  Simmons  was  to  retain  his  autocratic  control  of  the 
Klan  but  Clarke,  as  "Imperial  Kleagle,"  was  to  have  a  free  hand  in 
building  up  the  membership  by  his  own  devices.11  In  his  role  as  head 
of  the  Propagation  Department  of  the  Klan,  Clarke  found  himself  rely- 
ing more  and  more  upon  the  assistance  of  his  business  associate,  a 
plump,  fair-haired  widow  named  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Tyler.  It  is  interest- 
ing to  note  that  the  latter  was  not  even  mentioned  in  the  contract  and 
never  held  an  official  post  in  the  Invisible  Empire.  Let  Mrs.  Tyler 
relate  how  this  important,  albeit  short-lived,  triumvirate  came  to  be: 

"He  [Clarke]  was  in  charge  of  a  great  Harvest  Festival  in  Atlanta 
that  brought  more  people  to  Atlanta  than  had  ever  been  there  before. 
I  was  interested  in  hygiene  work  for  babies  ...  in  the  Harvest  Festi- 
val we  had  a  "Better  Babies"  Parade,  of  which  I  had  charge.  It  was 
through  this  that  I  met  Mr.  Clarke.  After  we  had  talked  over  many 
business   enterprises  we  formed  the   Southern  Publicity  Association 


HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND  7 

...  I  financed  the  Southern  Publicity  Association  and  stayed  in  the 
office,  and  Mr.  Clarke  was  field  representative. 

"We  came  in  contact  with  Col.  Simmons  and  the  Ku  Klux  Klan 
through  the  fact  that  my  son-in-law  joined  it.  We  found  Col.  Sim- 
mons was  having  a  hard  time  to  get  along . .  .  and  he  was  heart  and 
soul  for  the  success  of  his  Ku  Klux  Klan.  After  we  had  investigated  it 
from  every  angle,  we  decided  to  go  into  it  with  Col.  Simmons  and  give 
it  the  impetus  that  it  could  get  best  from  publicity."  u 

Clarke  and  Tyler  associated  themselves  with  the  Klan  to  make  money. 
In  their  desire  to  "sell"  the  organization,  they  found  it  most  effective 
to  appeal  to  the  racial,  religious,  and  nationalistic  feelings  of  prospec- 
tive joiners.  Their  publicity  releases  strove  to  show  how  the  Klan 
was  the  country's  only  bulwark  against  the  evil  forces  of  the  Negro, 
Catholic,  Jew,  and  immigrant.  I  As  a  direct  result  of  the  Clarke-Tyler 
program  the  Klan  found  itself  being  quickly  transformed  from  a  some- 
what easy-going  southern  fraternity  of  patriotic  whites  into  a  violently 
aggressive  national  organization  of  chauvinistic  native-born,  white 
Protestants!    1 

In  addition  to  directing  publicity  with  Mrs.  Tyler,  Clarke,  as  Im- 
perial Kleagle,  attended  to  the  more  difficult  task  of  actual  recruiting. 
Under  him  there  was  for  each  Realm  of  the  Invisible  Empire  a  "King 
Kleagle,"  to  whom  in  turn  there  were  attached  as  many  "Kleagles" 
as  necessary  to  do  the  field  work  within  the  Realm.  By  the  middle  of 
1921  there  were  over  200  Kleagles  active  throughout  the  United  States.13 

The  "Klectoken,"  or  $10  fee,  collected  from  each  new  member  was 
disposed  of  as  follows :  the  Kleagle  kept  for  himself  $4  and  remitted  $6 
to  the  King  Kleagle;  the  latter  retained  $1  and  sent  $5  to  the  Grand 
Goblin  of  the  Domain  to  which  he  was  attached;  the  Grand  Goblin 
took  $.50  and  sent  $4.50  to  the  Imperial  Kleagle,  who  in  turn  kept  $2.50 
and  paid  the  rest  into  the  coffers  of  the  Imperial  Wizard.  The  entire 
system  was  meticulously  conducted,  with  each  official  required  to  file 
his  weekly  returns. 

Clarke  and  Tyler  duly  carried  out  their  end  of  the  bargain;  within 
a  year  and  a  half  after  the  Southern  Publicity  Association  linked  it- 
self with  the  Klan,  the  latter  grew  from  a  few  thousand  members  to 
about  100,000. 

However,  the  Imperial  Wizard  would  have  one  believe  that  "it 
wasn't  until  newspapers  began  to  attack  the  Klan  that  it  really  grew." 
On  September  6,  1921,  the  New  York  World  began  a  three-week  series 
of  bitterly  hostile  articles  on  the  objectives,  methods,  and  leaders  of  the 
Klan.     According  to  this  newspaper,  the  order  was  merely  a  group 


8  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

of  avaricious  peddlers  of  bigotry.  Eighteen  leading  newspapers,  in- 
cluding such  southern  journals  as  the  New  Orleans  Times-Picayune, 
the  Dallas  Morning  News,  and  the  Columbus,  Georgia  Enquirer-Sun, 
published  the  New  York  World's  exposure. 

The  anti-Klan  press  ultimately  had  a  hand  in  inducing  Congress  it- 
self to  investigate  the  order.  The  House  of  Representatives  Committee 
on  Rules  conducted  hearings  from  October  11  to  17,  1921.  Simmons, 
on  the  stand  for  several  days,  was  ever  mindful  of  the  fact  that  a 
defense  of  the  Klan  in  his  own  words  was  being  sent  by  reporters 
all  over  the  country.  He  even  sought  to  "cash  in"  on  this  by  asserting 
that  the  interest  of  the  House  of  Representatives  Committee  on  Rules 
reflected  approval  of  the  Klan. 

However  unwittingly,  the  Congressional  investigation  did  give  the 
secret  fraternity  a  considerable  amount  of  free  and  valuable  advertising. 
Upon  his  return  from  Washington  to  national  headquarters  in  Atlanta," 
the  "Colonel"  found  himself  "literally  swamped"  with  letters  from  all 
parts  of  the  country  requesting  permission  to  organize  local  Klans. 
Simmons,  Clarke,  Tyler,  and  their  respective  underlings  worked  long 
hours  every  day  trying  to  meet  the  clamorous  demand  for  admittance 
into  the  Invisible  Empire — a  demand  that  was  to  result  within  the  next 
year  in  over  1,100,000  new  members.  Simmons'  observation  of  all  this 
was  gleeful  and  succinct:    "Congress  made  us." 

The  Imperial  Wizard  soon  felt  that  he  needed  an  energetic,  dedicated 
man  as  a  personal  assistant.  After  weeks  of  searching,  Clarke  finally 
found  him  one — Hiram  Wesley  Evans.  Born  in  Ashland,  Alabama,  in 
1881,  Evans  received  his  formal  education  at  Vanderbilt  University  in 
Nashville,  Tennessee,  and  eventually  settled  in  Dallas,  Texas,  where 
he  practiced  dentistry.  Before  he  was  brought  to  Atlanta,  where 
"Colonel"  Simmons  promptly  presented  him  with  the  official  post  of 
Kligrapp  in  his  cabinet,  Dr.  Evans  had  been  the  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the 
local  Klan  in  Dallas.  In  his  early  forties,  blue-eyed,  round-faced, 
pudgy,  and  genial,  Dr.  Evans  liked  to  think  of  himself  as  "the  most 
average  man  in  America."  But  he  was  no  average  man;  he  had  within 
him  both  the  deep  faith  of  Simmons  and  the  vast  practicality  of 
Clarke. 

In  March,  1922,  upon  the  insistence  of  his  wife,  who  feared  that  he 
was  on  the  verge  of  a  nervous  collapse,  Simmons  took  a  six  months' 
leave  of  absence  from  his  Klan  duties,  during  which  time  Clarke 
served  as  Imperial  Wizard  ad  interim.  Upon  returning,  restored  neither 
in  strength  nor  spirit,  yet  shuddering  at  the  thought  of  relinquishing 
the  great  office  he  held,  the  "Colonel"  evolved  a  plan  whereby  he 


HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND  9 

could  have  his  cake  and  eat  it  too.  He  decided  to  summon  a  Klonvoka- 
tion  so  that  it  could,  during  the  course  of  its  business,  re-elect  him  as 
Imperial  Wizard  and  provide  him  with  a  coadjutor  who  could  relieve 
him  of  the  many  and  varied  petty  details  of  planning  and  implementing 
policy.  He  suggested  that  this  new  administrative  assistant  be  called 
"Emperor." 

The  Klonvokation  was  called  for  November  27,  1922,  in  Atlanta. 
At  about  four  o'clock  that  morning  Simmons  was  roused  from  his  sleep 
by  two  agitated  Klansmen:  David  Curtis  Stephenson  and  Fred  L. 
Savage.  The  former  was  a  coal  dealer  from  Indianapolis  who  as  Grand 
Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Indiana  had  acquired  both  immense  wealth 
and  great  power  in  the  politics  of  his  state.  The  latter  was  an  ex- 
New  York  City  pier  detective  who  as  "Imperial  Night  Hawk"  in  Sim- 
mons' cabinet  was  the  head  of  the  Klan  secret  service  with  a  force  of 
fifty  or  so  special  agents. 

As  "Colonel"  Simmons  later  told  it,  the  following  conversation  took 
place: 

"Mr.  Savage  became  grave  and  very  pointedly  said,  'Don't  you 
permit  your  name  to  come  before  the  Klonvokation  for  nomination  as 
Imperial  Wizard  . . .  We  have  the  information  that  if  your  name  is  men- 
tioned on  the  floor  of  the  Klonvokation,  there  are  men  there  who  are 
going  to  get  up  and  attack  your  character ...  I  have  got  men  placed 
and  have  given  orders  to  shoot  and  shoot  to  kill  any  . . .  man  that 
attacks  the  character  of  Colonel  Simmons.  Consequently,  a  rough 
house  is  going  to  be  provoked  and  the  Klonvokation  will  be  destroyed. 
Now  in  order  to  preserve  the  harmony  and  the  peace  and  the  wonder- 
ful carrying  on  of  the  Klonvokation  as  we  have  it,  let  us  beat  those  birds 
and  you  give  them  a  message  in  which  you  refuse  to  allow  your 
name  to  come  before  them  to  succeed  yourself. 

"After  a  few  minutes'  pause  they . . .  asked  me  if  I  wouldn't  name 
as  my  choice  Hiram  Wesley  Evans,  in  order  to  meet  the  situation.  I 
told  them  . . .  that  there  was  nothing  on  the  board  against  Hiram 
Wesley  Evans  and  that  he  might  fit  in  an  emergency  as  he  had  know- 
ledge of  the  workings  of  the  office,  has  been  there  a  year  with  it. 

"They  said,  'Then  you  name  Dr.  Evans  as  your  successor?'  I  said, 
'Under  the  circumstances  and  facts  of  this  little  conference  here,  I 
am  agreeable  to  him.'  "16 

The  Klonvokation  elected  Dr.  Evans  as  Imperial  Wizard  and  in- 
stalled "Colonel"  Simmons  as  Emperor,  after  redrafting  the  constitution 
to  provide  for  the  new  office. 

Then  Simmons  learned  that  the  early  morning  visit  from  the  Grand 


/ 


70  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Indiana  and  the  Imperial  Night  Hawk  was 
but  an  integral  part  of  a  coup  d'etat  engineered  by  these  two  men  with 
the  assistance  of  H.  C.  McCall,  a  former  constable  of  Houston  and  a 
leader  of  the  Klan  there,  and  James  A.  Comer,  Grand  Dragon  of  the 
Realm  of  Arkansas.  Simmons  found  out  that  many  hours  before 
Stephenson  and  Savage  awakened  him  that  morning  they  had  sent 
a  handful  of  henchmen  to  the  hotel  rooms  of  the  various  influential 
members  of  the  Klonvokation  to  convince  them  that  the  Imperial 
Wizardship  should  go  to  Evans. 

It  should  be  noted  that  after  the  Klonvokation  Evans  asserted  that 
he  had  no  knowledge  of  the  intrigue  in  which  "the  boys"  had  engaged 
in  his  behalf,  that  his  elevation  to  the  highest  office  in  the  Klan 
had  been  a  complete  and  total  surprise.  Simmons  was  never  able  to 
believe  this. 

Concomitant  with  the  election  of  Evans  to  the  Imperial  Wizardship 
was  the  disruption  of  the  triumvirate  of  Simmons,  Clarke,  and  Tyler. 
At  the  beginning  of  1923  Mrs.  Tyler  married  an  affluent  Atlanta  movie 
theater  proprietor  and  so  left  active  Klan  work  to  take  up  once  more  the 
chores  of  a  household.  The  following  year  she  died.  Just  as  soon 
as  Evans  found  it  propitious,  he  cancelled  Clarke's  contract  as  organi- 
zer. On  March  5, 1923,  an  announcement  came  from  the  Imperial  Aulic 
that  Clarke  had  been  removed  "for  the  good  of  the  order"  and  would 
no  longer  receive  "one  cent  of  revenue  from  the  Klan."  By  the  late 
spring  of  1923  Evans  had  accomplished  the  transfer  of  all  the  significant 
duties  of  the  Emperorship  to  the  Imperial  Wizardship;  "Colonel"  Sim- 
mons, by  now  a  semi-invalid,  was  stripped  of  even  those  last  remaining 
bits  of  power  that  he  had  enjoyed  after  the  coup  d'etat.  On  May  1-2, 
1923,  at  a  special  meeting  of  the  Kloncilium,  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  bought 
from  Simmons  various  copyrights  to  the  organization,  in  return  for 
which  it  agreed  to  pay  him  $1,000  a  month  for  the  rest  of  his  life.  The 
following  September  Simmons  resigned  from  the  Klan  and  relinquished 
all  legal  interests  in  the  order  for  a  flat  sum  of  $146,500.  The  "Colonel" 
remained  for  many  years  in  Atlanta,  where  he  made  several  attempts 
to  organize  orders  similar  to  the  Klan.  He  finally  gave  up  in  despair, 
and  left  for  Luverne,  Alabama,  where  he  ended  his  days  in  quiet 
retirement.    In  1945  he  died. 

While  Evans  was  the  undisputed  ruler  of  the  Knights  of  the  Ku 
Klux  Klan  he  made  certain  changes  which  he  looked  upon  as  reforms. 
First,  each  functionary  was  given  a  moderate  salary  instead  of  receiv- 
ing, as  heretofore,  large  sums  out  of  receipts  from  initiation  fees  and 
the  sale  of  regalia.16    Second,  any  Klansman  of  questionable  morals  was 


HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND  11 

expelled  from  the  organization,  and  the  private  life  of  the  applicant  for 
membership  was  now  quite  closely  scrutinized.  Third,  any  act  of 
terrorism  engaged  in  by  Klansmen  was  vigorously  denounced;  in 
order  to  curtail  lawless  activities  of  members  hiding  behind  Klan 
regalia,  the  wearing  of  the  hood  and  robe  was  forbidden  except 
at  formal  ceremonies.17  Fourth,  from  a  "band  of  twentieth  century 
knights,  without  fear  and  without  reproach,"  the  order  was  molded  into 
a  powerful  force  in  the  local,  state,  and  national  politics  of  America. 

Evans'  "reform"  policy  could  not  eradicate  the  widespread  antipathy 
toward  the  Klan  which  had  been  incurred  during  the  heyday  of  the 
Simmons-Clarke-Tyler  regime.  The  public  still  remained  incensed  at 
the  accumulation  of  riches  by  the  former  hierarchy  of  the  secret 
fraternity.18  As  Imperial  Wizard,  Simmons  had  enjoyed  a  salary  of 
$1,000  a  month  and  unlimited  personal  and  official  expense  accounts. 
Among  the  many  gifts  from  his  followers  there  had  been  a  $33,000 
home  in  Atlanta  known  as  "Klankrest,"  two  high-priced  automobiles, 
and  an  appropriation  of  $25,000  as  compensation  for  those  early  years 
of  unremunerative  service  to  the  Invisible  Empire.18  From  just  after 
the  Congressional  investigation  of  the  Klan  in  October,  1921,  until  his 
expulsion  from  the  order  in  March,  1923,  Clarke,  as  Imperial  Kleagle, 
had  received  as  much  as  $40,000  a  month.  Stephenson  had  owned  a 
lavishly  furnished  mansion  in  a  suburb  of  Indianapolis,  a  costly  yacht 
en  Lake  Michigan,  a  private  railroad  car,  and  a  gilded  airplane 
(complete  with  personal  pilot).  All  in  all,  this  Grand  Dragon  of  the 
Realm  of  Indiana  had  amassed  from  his  office  a  fortune  of  $3,000,000. 

America  was  still  disgusted  by  the  scandalous  private  lives  of  former  ^ 
high-ranking  Klansmen.  As  years  had  passed,  Simmons  had  become 
a  near-drunkard.20  It  is  not  unlikely  that  the  "Colonel's"  inveter- . 
ate  drinking  was  a  factor  in  the  nervous  illness  he  had  suffered  just 
before  losing  the  Imperial  Wizardship.  In  October,  1919,  in  Atlanta, 
Clarke  and  Mrs.  Tyler  had  been  arrested  together  and  fined  for  dis- 
orderly conduct;  that  is,  for  having  been  intoxicated  and  not  fully 
clad.  The  arrest  had  taken  place  on  information  given  by  Clarke's 
wife,  who  had  a  fortnight  previously  sued  for  divorce  on  the  ground 
of  desertion.  In  September,  1923,  Clarke  had  been  placed  under  bond 
for  carrying  whiskey  in  his  traveling  bag.  In  November,  1924,  the 
U.  S.  federal  court  at  Houston  had  found  Clarke  guilty  and  fined 
him  $5,000  for  having  violated  the  White  Slave  Act  in  February,  1921. n 
Every  time  Stephenson  had  given  a  party — and  he  had  been  famous 
for  them — he  had  loaded  his  mansion  with  wine  and  women  to  insure 
hours  of  fun  for  the  many  guests.     Stephenson  himself  had  liked  the 


12  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

ladies.  One  to  whom  he  had  given  much  attention  (years  after  desert- 
ing first  one,  then  another,  wife)  was  an  employee  of  the  Indiana 
Department  of  Public  Welfare,  Miss  Madge  Oberholtzer.  In  March, 
1925,  after  having  had  sadistic  sexual  relations  forced  upon  her  by 
Stephenson,  Miss  Oberholtzer  had  written  an  anguished  note  and 
swallowed  a  fatal  dose  of  poison.  After  a  trial  that  had  attracted  wide- 
spread attention,  Stephenson  had  been  found  guilty  of  murder  and 
sentenced  to  life  imprisonment.22 

The  nation  could  not  forget  the  past  activities  of  the  Klansmen  who 
had  looked  upon  their  organization  as  a  nationwide  vigilance  com- 
mittee. These  self-appointed  protectors  of  a  community's  morals  and 
peace  had  taken  such  measures  against  wrongdoers  (either  real  or 
imagined )  as  ostracism,  boycotting,  the  sending  of  threatening  letters 
and  even  "night-riding,"  the  culmination  of  which  was  tar  and  feather- 
ing, whipping,  branding,  or  emasculation.  As  a  matter  of  fact  Evans' 
effort  to  discourage  the  maltreating  of  erring  citizens  by  Klansmen 
was  less  than  successful. 

If  the  first  three  of  Evans'  "reforms"  did  not  assuage  the  nation's 
wrath  toward  the  Klan,  the  fourth  served  only  to  augment  that  wrath. 
The  public  became  chafed  at  a  fraternal  organization  which  more 
and  more  demanded  the  right  and  oftener  and  oftener  was  able  to 
"express  itself"  in  the  political  field. 

This  "reform"  policy  of  Evans'  could  never  have  eradicated  the  wide- 
spread antipathy  toward  the  Klan  because  the  order  remained,  in 
essence,  what  it  had  long  been — a  champion  of  native-born,  white 
Protestantism.  As  such,  the  secret  fraternity  under  Evans — as  under 
Simmons,  Clarke,  and  Tyler — automatically  made  enemies  of  large 
numbers  of  Americans — anyone  who  happened  to  be  foreign-born, 
Negro,  Catholic,  Jewish,  or  opposed  to  bigotry  and  chauvinism.28 

As  the  third  decade  of  the  twentieth  century  approached  a  close, 
the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  was  no  longer  able  to  maintain  its 
membership.  In  1924,  there  had  been  more  than  4,000,000  members. 
By  1926  the  membership  had  shrunk  to  fewer  than  1,500,000.  By 
1928  it  had  shriveled  to  about.  200,000.  In  1928,  however,  the  Klan 
spirit,  if  not  the  Klan  organized  political  potency  of  former  years,  was 
a  factor  in  cracking  the  "Solid  South,"  when  the  Democratic  party's 
candidate  for  the  presidency  was  a  Catholic,  Alfred  E.  Smith.  Then, 
what  was  left  of  the  Invisible  Empire  collapsed.  By  1930  its  member- 
ship had  withered  away  to  scarcely  50,000.  And  with  the  depression 
of  this  new  decade,  the  secret  order  was  all  but  forgotten.24 


Chapter  II 

EXPANSION  9N  THE  1920'S 

It  is  a  serious  mistake  to  think  that  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the  1920's 
was  a  powerful  force  only  in  the  Deep  South.  To  be  sure,  the  order 
was  founded  in  Georgia,  and  then  spread  rather  quickly  to  the  neigh- 
boring states  of  Alabama  and  Florida.  However,  the  Klan  reached  its 
first  peak  of  success,  after  the  Congressional  investigation  in  October, 
1921,  in  the  vast  area  to  the  west  of  the  lower  Mississippi  River,  in  Texas, 
Oklahoma,  and  Arkansas.  Then  the  organization  took  firm  root  on 
the  Pacific  coast,  first  in  California  and  later  in  Oregon.  And  by  1924 
the  fraternity  reached  extraordinary  success  in  the  Middle  West 
generally  and  fantastic  success  in  the  states  of  Indiana  and  Ohio  partic- 
ularly.1 

One  of  the  most  astute  of  the  many  contemporary  students  of  the 
Klan,  Stanley  Frost,  calculated  that  the  order  at  its  height  of  activity 
had  about  4,000,000  members  distributed  as  follows:  Indiana,  500,000; 
Ohio,  450,000;  Texas,  415,000;  California,  New  York,  Oklahoma,  Oregon 
200,000  each;  Alabama,  Arkansas,  Florida,  Georgia,  Illinois,  Kansas, 
Kentucky,  Louisiana,  Maryland,  Michigan,  Mississippi,  Missouri,  New 
Jersey,  Tennessee,  Washington,  and  West  Virginia,  between  50,000  and 
200,000  each. 

One  might  wonder  at  the  large  number  of  Klansmen  in  states 
having  so  few  Negroes,  Catholics,  Jews,  or  foreign-born — states  lacking, 
therefore,  in  all  those  things  against  which  the  Klan  railed  and  upon 
which  it  thrived.  The  secret  is  that  in  the  1920's  the  bulk  of  the 
people  in  the  states  of  the  western  reaches  of  the  lower  Mississippi 
Valley,  the  Pacific  coast,  and  the  Middle  West  were  the  descendants — 
both  physical  and  spiritual — of  that  old  American  stock  from  which  the 
anti-Catholic  and  nativistic  movements  of  the  preceding  century  drew 
their  chief  support. 

The  Klan  was  in  the  main  a  village  and  small  town  phenomenon. 
Neither  the  city,  as  a  potpourri  of  many  racial,  religious,  and  ethnic 
groups,  nor  the  country,  as  an  isolated  area  with  far-spread  inhabitants, 
lent  itself  to  the  effective  launching  and  developing  of  a  local  chapter. 
The  appreciable  Klan  following  in  many  of  the  large  cities  and  much 
of  the  countryside  all  over  the  United  States  during  the  1920's  must 

73 


14  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

not  be  discounted.  But  the  secret  fraternity  drew  its  millions  pri- 
marily from  the  villages  and  small  towns  which  had  been  left  rather 
undisturbed  by  the  immigration,  industrialization,  and  liberal  thought 
of  modern  America. 

Eligible  for  membership  in  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan  was  any  white,  native-born,  Christian,  American  male, 
who  (in  order  to  debar  Catholics)  owed  "no  allegiance  of  any  nature 
or  degree  to  any  foreign  government,  nation,  institution,  sect,  ruler, 
person  .  .  .  "2 

Among  those  millions  of  individuals  who  could,  and  did,  join  the 
order,  one  contemporary  observer,  Robert  L.  Duffus,  found  six  classes: 
(1)  the  organizers  and  promoters;  (2)  businessmen;  (3)  politicians; 
(4)  preachers  and  pious  laymen;  (5)  incorrigible  "joiners"  and  lovers 
of  "horseplay";  and  ( 6 )  bootleggers  who  joined  for  protection.  Using 
this  classification  as  the  basis  for  a  discussion  of  the  caliber  of  men 
who  associated  themselves  with  the  Klan — and  this  classification  will 
have  to  serve  for  lack  of  another  by  a  contemporary  more  knowledge- 
able and  objective — it  becomes  immediately  apparent  that  Klansmen 
belonged  to  a  variety  of  socio-economic  classes. 

Not  always,  but  sometimes,  the  leaders  of  a  community  would 
join  the  local  Klan  chapter.  In  each  new  territory  that  the  Kleagle 
"worked,"  he  made  a  practice,  for  obvious  reasons,  of  approaching 
the  prominent  citizens  first.  Imperial  Kligrapp  H.  K.  Ramsey,  writing 
of  the  Klan's  Second  Klonvokation,  held  in  Kansas  City,  Missouri, 
in  September,  1924,  declared  that  "Ministers  of  the  Gospel,  Attorneys 
(some  representing  our  common  judiciary),  Educators,  business  men 
( a  number  of  them  millionaires  and  capitalists )  ...  all  sat  together." 

After  the  Kleagles  had  flattered  and  persuaded  as  many  of  the  lead- 
ing citizens  of  the  community  into  joining  the  secret  fraternity  as  they 
could,  they  then  turned  their  attention  to  enlisting  the  middle  class. 
The  remark  of  Ramsey,  as  a  member  of  the  Klan's  hierarchy,  might 
well  be  taken  with  the  proverbial  grain  of  salt.  Nevertheless,  it  is 
most  important  to  note  that  practically  all  anti-Klan  writers  described 
the  vast  majority  of  Klansmen  as  members  of  America's  respectable 
middle  class.  One  journalist,  for  example,  wrote  that  most  Klansmen 
were  "solid,  respectable  citizens,  kind  and  loving  husbands  and  fathers, 
conscientious  members  of  their  churches";  another  penned  that  most  of 
the  persons  who  joined  the  order  were  "good,  solid,  middle-class  citi- 
zens, the  ^backbone  of  the  Nation'." 

After  the  Kleagles  had  enlisted  as  many  of  the  middle  class  as  they 
were  able,  they  then  directed  their  sales  talk  to  the  less  desirable 


EXPANSION  IN  THE    1920's  75 

elements.  Hustling  agents  "sought  out  the  poor,  the  romantic,  the 
short-witted,  the  bored,  the  vindictive,  the  bigoted,  and  the  ambitious, 
and  sold  them  their  heart's  desire."  Stanley  Frost,  in  his  reportorial 
study  of  the  Klan  for  The  Outlook,  commented  that  he  had  not  learned 
of  a  single  case  in  which  a  Kleagle  refused  an  individual  membership 
in  the  secret  fraternity — "no  matter  how  vicious  or  dangerous  he 
might  be" — if  he  had  the  necessary  $10.  Henry  Peck  Fry,  who  resigned 
from  the  Klan  as  a  disillusioned  Kleagle,  branded  his  former  colleagues 
for  "selling  memberships  as  they  would  sell  insurance  or  stock." 

It  was  this  indiscriminate  recruiting  by  Kleagles  (resulting,  naturally, 
from  the  fact  that  their  incomes  depended  upon  the  number  of  men 
enlisted)  that  forced  one  W.  M.  Likins  to  sever  all  contacts  with  his 
local  Klan  chapter.  This  individual  joined  the  secret  fraternity  be- 
cause he  believed  in  its  nationalistic  and  Protestant  creed;  he  soon  quit 
the  organization  because  he  found  it  to  contain  an  element  of  "low 
characters,  not  educated  or  moral."  Most  chapters  had  their  share 
of  the  community's  dregs  on  their  membership  lists.  In  the  South 
this  element  seemed  to  be  an  active  minority  in  most  localities,  and  a 
forceful  majority  in  some. 

There  was  something  about  the  United  States  of  the  1920's  that  in- 
fluenced a  surprisingly  large  number  of  Americans  in  their  decision  to 
join  the  order.    The  spirit  of  the  times  demands  analysis. 

The  decade  1920-1930  was  what  it  was  largely  because  of  the  effects 
of  World  War  I.  During  the  armed  struggle  America  mistrusted  and 
mistreated  aliens,  deprived  itself  of  food  and  fuel,  and  poured  its 
money  into  the  Liberty  Loan  campaigns.  But  the  war  was  over 
too  quickly  for  the  nation  to  spend  fully  its  ultra-patriotic  psychological 
feelings.  In  the  decade  following,  America  permitted  itself  to  reject 
the  League  of  Nations,  to  curtail  immigration,  to  deport  aliens  whole- 
sale, and  to  accept  the  Klan  with  its  motto  of  "one  hundred  per  cent 
Americanism." 

Another  result  of  the  war  was  the  intensifying  of  racial  antipathies. 
The  bearing  of  arms  and  the  freedom  of  contact  with  whites  in  France 
by  Negro  servicemen  and  the  receiving  of  high  wages  by  many  Negroes 
of  the  South  who  moved  to  northern  cities  in  order  to  work  for  war 
industries  made  the  colored  people  of  the  nation  feel  a  human  dignity 
they  had  never  before  experienced.  During  the  1920's  this  served  to 
increase  hostility  on  the  part  of  whites  and  to  decrease  the  endurance 
of  such  hostility  on  the  part  of  Negroes.  The  Klan  was  quick  to 
capitalize  on  the  feeling  of  those  whites  who  believed  they  saw  every- 
where Negro  "uppitiness." 


15  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

A  third  effect  of  World  War  I  was  the  violent  death  of  the  old 
American  way  of  life — evangelical,  didactic,  prudish — and  the  sudden 
birth  of  a  new.  (No  event  serves  as  a  nation's  cultural  watershed 
better  than  a  war.)  The  1920's  meant  "modernism."  And  "modern- 
ism," among  other  things,  meant  the  waning  of  church  influence,  parti- 
cularly over  the  younger  people;  the  breaking  down  of  parental  con- 
trol; the  discarding  of  the  old-fashioned  absolute  moral  code  in  favor  of 
a  freer  or  "looser"  personal  one,  which  manifested  itself  in  such 
activities  as  purchasing  and  drinking  contraband  liquor,  participating 
in  ultra-frank  conversations  between  the  sexes,  wearing  skirts  close  to 
the  knees,  engaging  in  various  extreme  forms  of  dancing  in  smoke- 
filled  road  houses,  and  petting  in  parked  cars.  A  host  of  Americans 
were  unwilling,  or  unable,  to  adapt  themselves  to  this  post-war  culture. 
In  the  Klan  they  saw  a  bulwark  against  the  hated  "modernism,"  an 
opportunity  to  salvage  some  of  the  customs  and  traditions  of  the  old 
religio-moralistic  order.  " 

Although  there  was  a  spirit  peculiar  to  the  1920's  that  influenced 
many  into  joining  the  secret  fraternity,  each  individual  had  his 
own  particular  reason  for  donning  the  peaked  hood  and  robe.  Why 
certain  leading  citizens  of  a  community  were  prompted  to  associate 
themselves  with  the  Klan  is  not  difficult  to  comprehend.  Many  business- 
men most  assuredly  saw  that  by  joining  the  Klan  they  could  keep 
old  and  get  new  trade  through  their  fraternal  contacts;  some  physicians 
and  lawyers  must  have  realized  that  as  the  "best"  of  their  community 
they  would  probably  be  the  officers  of  the  local  chapter  of  the  ever- 
growing order;  numerous  Protestant  clergymen  were  undoubtedly  won 
over  by  the  organization's  highly  moral  and  religious  ritual  and  code;8 
large  numbers  of  local  politicians  were  ever  mindful  of  the  fact  that 
each  fellow  Klansman  would  equal  one  vote  they  could  count  on. 

Droves  of  middle-class  Southerners  eagerly  paid  the  $10  initiation 
fee  to  the  first  Kleagle  with  whom  they  came  in  contact.  Southern 
history  had  idealized  the  old  Klan  as  a  protector  of  the  "peculiar  way 
of  life"  below  the  Mason-Dixon  fine  to  the  extent  that  to  many  inhabit- 
ants of  that  area  the  memory  of  the  Reconstruction  organization  was 
something  sacred.  Besides,  there  was  in  the  1920's  a  new,  vibrant  in- 
terest in  the  old  hooded  order,  for  David  W.  Griffith's  cinematic  eulogy 
on  the  Klan,  "The  Birth  of  a  Nation,"  had  been  thrilling  the  movie-go- 
ing public  since  its  first  release  in  1915.  There  was  hardly  a  southern 
city  that  had  not  had  the  film  for  a  return  engagement.4  Thus  when 
the  twentieth  century  Klan  was  presented  to  the  people  as  a  memorial 


EXPANSION  IN  THE    1920  s  17 

to  the  old  organization,  half  the  battle  for  recruitment  in  the  South 
had  been  won. 

That  the  bigoted  of  the  nation  found  "truth"  in  the  Klan  is  self- 
evident,  i  It  must  be  emphasized  that  the  secret  order  was  most 
shrewd  in  the  way  it  varied  its  appeal  from  one  section  of  the  country 
to  the  other  to  suit  the  paramount  prejudice  of  the  area.  \  The  Klan's 
plank  was  chameleonic:  on  the  Pacific  coast  it  was  anti-Japanese;  in  the 
Southwest,  anti-Mexican;  in  the  Middle  West,  anti-Catholic;6  in  the 
Deep  South,  anti-Negro;  in  New  England,  anti-French  Canadian;  in 
the  large  cities  of  the  Northeast,  anti-alien-born;  on  the  Atlantic  coast, 
anti-Semitic. 

Many  ruffians  took  the  sacred  oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Invisible 
Empire.  The  Klan  as  a  bulwark  against  "modernism"  conveyed  to 
the  simple  and  sincere  members  of  the  order  nothing  more  than 
a  crusade  to  reform  the  wayward  of  their  community.  Translated  into 
practical  application  such  a  crusade  meant  teaching  someone  a  "lesson" 
— perhaps  an  adulterous  neighbor,  the  town  drunkard,  a  merchant 
who  habitually  short-changed  and  short-weighted,  or  a  corrupt  official. 
Taking  punitive  measures  against  a  wrongdoer  without  benefit  of  the 
regularly  established  police  and  court  systems  leads  more  often  than 
not  to  injustice  and  cruelty.  While  appearing  to  be  acting  selflessly 
in  behalf  of  the  Klan,  hoodlums  saw  a  wonderful  opportunity  to  get 
their  fill  of  sadistic  orgies.  Taking  refuge  under  the  hood  and  robe, 
rowdies  on  a  "night-riding"  mission  could  wield  with  abandon  the 
tar  bucket  and  bag  of  feathers,  whip,  branding  iron,  acid  bottle,  or 
pocket  knife.* 

Why  the  bored,  the  romantic,  the  fraternally  inclined,  and  the 
lovers  of  "horseplay"  joined  the  Klan  is  obvious.  The  world  of  the 
Invisible  Empire  was  a  world  of  make-believe.  One  critic  of  the 
order,  Aldrich  Blake,  put  it  nicely:  "When  a  man  joins  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan,  a  sensation  seems  to  come  over  him  as  definite  as  falling  in  love. 
He  simply  drops  out  of  society  and  enters  a  new  world."  During  the 
day  a  man  was  a  breadwinner,  going  through  an  ofttimes  dull,  always 
tiring,  routine  at  the  office  or  shop.  But  after  dark  a  man  became  a 
Knight,  taking  part  in  activities  that  were  pure  spectacle  and  mystery, 
fun  and  excitement.  How  satisfying  it  must  have  been  to  many  to  have 
been  able  to  participate,  for  example,  in  a  ritual-packed  business  meet- 
ing in  a  room  decked  out  with  an  altar  full  of  symbolic  objects  and  illu- 
minated by  a  "fiery  cross,"  or  in  an  initiation  ceremony  long  after 
midnight  in  a  lonely  wood  outside  of  town. 

Then  there  was  the  costume.    The  robe  of  the  rank  and  file  of  the 


18  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

secret  order  was  of  white  cotton,  girdled  with  a  sash  of  the  same 
color  and  material,  and  with  a  white  cross  upon  a  red  background 
stitched  below  the  left  shoulder.  The  headdress  was  a  white  cotton 
peaked  hood  from  which  a  red  tassel  hung.  The  entire  outfit  cost  $5. 
The  costume  of  an  officer  was  more  resplendent  and  more  expensive, 
how  much  so  depending  upon  the  status  of  the  officer  in  the  Klan 
hierarchy.  The  robe  of  a  Grand  Dragon,  for  example,  was  of  orange 
satin  trimmed  with  military  braid  and  embroidered  in  silk.  Together 
with  an  orange  satin  peaked  hood,  it  cost  $40.7 

There  were  parades.  These  were  usually  night  affairs,  held  rather 
often  by  most  local  Klans  of  the  villages  and  small  towns,  and  only 
on  very  special  occasions  by  those  of  the  cities.  Men,  women,  and  chil- 
dren from  near  and  far  would  gather  on  the  sidewalks  of  the  main 
thoroughfare  of  a  hamlet  to  gaze  upon  the  hooded  and  robed  men, 
beneath  burning  torches  and  behind  a  huge  fiery  cross,  filing  silently 
down  the  street.  A  mayor  from  Texas,  in  describing  the  reaction  of  the 
thousands  of  people  who  were  witnessing  a  Klan  parade  in  his  small 
town,  avowed  that  throughout  the  entire  demonstration,  one  could 
almost  hear  the  breathing  of  the  crowd.8, 

A  "Kalendar"  was  used.  The  fixed  point  in  time  employed  for  com- 
puting the  years  of  this  calendar  was  1867,  when  there  was  effected  in 
Nashville,  Tennessee,  a  general  organization  of  the  many  local  post- 
Civil  War  Klans.  In  the  Kalendar  the  seven  days  of  the  week  were, 
in  order,  "dark,  deadly,  dismal,  doleful,  desolate,  dreadful,  and  desper- 
ate"; the  five  weeks  of  the  month  were  "woeful,  weeping,  wailing, 
wonderful,  and  weird";  the  twelve  months  of  the  year  were  "bloody, 
gloomy,  hideous,  fearful,  furious,  alarming,  terrible,  horrible,  mourn- 
ful, sorrowful,  frightful,  and  appalling."  Thus  the  date  of  the  proclama- 
tion of  the  revised  Klan  constitution,  November  29,  1922,  was  "the 
Doleful  Day  of  the  Weird  Week  of  the  Frightful  Month  of  the  Year  of 
the  Klan  LVI." 

There  was  even  "Klonversation."    A  typical  verbal  encounter: 

"Ayak?"  (Are  you  a  Klansman?) 

"Akia."  (A  Klansman  I  am.) 

"Cyknar."  ( Call  your  Klan  number  and  Realm. ) 

"No.l,  Atga."  (Number  1  Klan  of  Atlanta,  Georgia.) 

"Kigy."  (Klansman,  I  greet  you.) 

"Sanbog."  (Strangers  are  near.     Be  on  guard.) 

Various  emblems  and  tokens  could  be  purchased.  Any  member  of 
the  order  was  able  to  obtain  a  "Kluxer's  Knifty  Knife"  for  $1.25,  a 
bargain  indeed,  considering  the  fact  that  the  little  instrument  was  a 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920' 's  79 

"real  100  per  cent  knife  for  100  per  cent  Americans."  If  a  Klansman 
wanted  to  surprise  his  spouse,  he  might  get  her,  for  only  $2.25,  a  zircon- 
studded  Fiery  Cross,  which  was  outfitted  with  a  clasp  so  that  it  could 
be  worn  as  a  brooch.  The  larger-sized  Fiery  Cross,  costing  $2.90, 
had  a  link  at  the  top  so  that  a  Knight  could  wear  it  on  the  watch  chain 
across  his  vest.  Five  dollars  purchased  one  a  fourteen  karat  gold- 
filled  ring  with  a  ten  karat  solid  gold  Klan  emblem  on  a  fiery  red  stone. 

Naturally,  it  was  expected  of  every  individual  who  took  the  sacred 
oath  of  allegiance  to  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan  to  know  and  fully  accept  the  beliefs  of  the  order.  The  main 
tenets  in  the  creed  of  the  secret  fraternity  were  the  following:  (1) 
memorialization  of  the  original  Klan;  (2)  white  supremacy;  (3)  anti- 
Semitism;  (4)  anti-foreign-bornism;  (5)  anti-Catholicism;  (6)  "pure" 
Americanism;  (7)  Protestantism  and  strict  morality. 

Although  the  twentieth  century  Klan  came  to  possess  a  more  com- 
plex ideology  than  the  Reconstruction  Klan,  at  its  founding  and  for  the 
first  five  years  of  its  existence  its  raison  d'etre  was  the  memorialization 
of  its  nineteenth  century  namesake.  Even  after  the  Klan  had  been 
transformed  from  a  southern  fraternity  of  a  few  thousand  into  a  na- 
tional organization  with  millions  of  members,  its  leaders  were  quick 
to  bring  to  mind  that  the  order  was  the  proud  heir  of  the  original 
Klan.  In  1922,  while  serving  as  Imperial  Wizard  ad  interim,  Clarke 
declared,  "By  right  of  our  sacred  inheritance,  we  glory  in  wearing  the 
regalia  of  the  original  Ku  Klux  Klan  as  a  memorial  to  that  dauntless 
organization  of  the  Reconstruction  Days."  The  following  year  "Colo- 
nel" Simmons  in  one  of  his  books  wrote,  "The  present  Klan  is  a 
memorial  to  the  original  organization.  In  a  sense  it  is  the  reincarna- 
tion among  the  sons  of  the  spirit  of  the  fathers." 

The  twentieth  century  Klan  copied  a  great  deal  from  its  precursor — 
the  hierarchy  of  officers,  subdivisional  structure,  regalia,  silent  parades, 
and  mysterious  language.  There  was  only  one  thing,  however,  taken 
over  from  the  original  Klan  by  the  twentieth  century  order  which 
was  ideological  in  nature  rather  than  ritualistic  or  ornamental — and 
that  was  the  belief  in  white  supremacy.9 

A  quick  and  highly  satisfactory  method  by  which  to  approach  the 
Klan's  thinking  on  the  Negro  (as  well  as  on  such  topics  as  the  Jew, 
foreign-born,  Catholic,  or  Americanism)  is  to  dip  into  a  few  of  the 
writings  of,  addresses  by,  and  interviews  with  Evans,  for  as  Imperial 
Wizard  he  spoke  officially  for  every  man  in  the  order.  In  an  article 
for  The  North  American  Review,  Evans  declared: 

"The  world  has  been  so  made  that  each  race  must  fight  for  its 


20  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

life,  must  conquer,  accept  slavery  or  die.  The  Klansman  believes  that 
the  whites  will  not  become  slaves,  and  he  does  not  intend  to  die  before 
his   time. 

"...  the  future  of  progress  and  civilization  depends  on  the  con- 
tinual supremacy  of  the  white  race.  The  forward  movement  of  the 
world  for  centuries  has  come  entirely  from  it.  Other  races  each  had 
its  chance  and  either  failed  or  stuck  fast,  while  white  civilization 
shows  no  sign  of  having  reached  its  limit.  Until  the  whites  falter, 
or  some  colored  civilization  has  a  miracle  of  awakening,  there  is  not  a 
single  colored  stock  that  can  claim  even  equality  with  the  white;  much 
less  supremacy." 

Fully  satisfied  that  centuries  of  history  had  proved  the  basic  infer- 
iority of  the  colored  people  all  over  the  world,  Evans  felt  compelled,  in 
a  speech  given  in  Dallas,  Texas,  on  October  24,  1923,  before  75,000 
Klansmen,  to  debar  from  American  nationality  the  Negroes:  "They 
have  not,  they  can  not,  attain  the  Anglo-Saxon  level . . .  The  low  men- 
tality of  savage  ancestors,  of  jungle  environment,  is  inherent  in 
the  blood-stream  of  the  colored  race  in  America.  No  new  environ- 
ment can  more  than  superficially  overcome  this  age-old  hereditary 
handicap." 

But  the  Klan  believed  that  America  must  act  kindly  and  helpfully 
toward  its  Negro  inhabitants,  Evans  told  an  interviewer,  for  while 
"America  must  face  the  fact  that  God  Almighty  never  intended  social 
equality  for  Negro  and  white  man,"  she  "owes  it  to  the  Negro  to  give 
him  every  privilege  and  protection  and  every  opportunity  consistent 
with  .  . .  National   safety." 

In  a  pamphlet  much  circulated  by  the  Invisible  Empire  in  1923, 
Ideals  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  there  appears  a  section  entitled  "Character 
of  the  Organization,"  containing  the  following  list: 

"1.  This  is  a  white  man's  organization. 

2.  This  is  a  gentile  organization. 

3.  It  is  an  American  organization. 

4.  It  is  a  Protestant  organization."10 

Just  as  Evans  pleaded  the  Klan's  cause  for  white  supremacy,  he 
explained  feelingly  on  behalf  of  his  fraternal  followers  why  the  order 
was  also  a  "gentile,"  "American,"  and  "Protestant"  one,  striving  to 
make  Protestantism  and  native-bornism  prerequisites  for  American 
nationality.11 

During  an  extended  conversation  with  a  journalist,  Evans  said  that 
the  reason  the  Klan  was  antipathetic  toward  the  Jew  was  that  "for  two 
thousand  years  [he]  has  rigidly  adhered  to  a  racial  limitation  of  inter- 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920 's  21 

marriage  which  makes  it  impossible  for  him  to  be  assimilated  into 
American  life  wholly  and  unreservedly."  At  another  time,  however, 
the  Imperial  Wizard  attempted  to  show  that  the  Jew  was  unassimilable 
for  reasons  other  than  a  disinclination  to  marry  outside  his  faith:  "By 
every  patriotic  test,  he  is  an  alien  and  unassimilable.  Not  in  a  thousand 
years  of  continuous  residence  would  he  form  basic  attachments  com- 
parable to  those  the  older  type  of  immigrant  would  form  within  a 
year.  The  evil  influence  of  persecutions  is  upon  him.  It  is  as  tho  he 
was  here  today  and  might  be  forced  to  flee  tomorrow.  He  does  not 
tie  himself  to  the  land." 

But  Evans,  along  with  the  Klan  of  course,  grew  gradually  to  consider 
the  Jew  a  far  smaller  problem  than  other  "unassimilables"  in  the 
nation:  (  "For  one  thing,  he  is  confined  to  a  few  cities,  and  is  no 
problem  at  all  to  most  of  the  country.  For  another  thing,  his  exclusive- 
ness,  political  activities,  and  refusal  to  become  assimilated  are  racial 
rather  than  religious,  based  on  centuries  of  persecution.  They  can- 
not last  long  in  the  atmosphere  of  free  America,  and  we  may  expect 
that  with  the  passage  of  time  the  serious  aspects  of  this  problem  will 
fade  away." 

The  very  heart  of  the  Klan's  thinking  on  the  foreign-born  in  America 
can  be  found  in  a  single  passage  from  one  of  Evans'  articles  for  The 
Forum: 

"We  believe  that  the  pioneers  who  built  America  bequeathed  to 
their  own  children  a  priority  right  to  it,  the  control  of  it  and  of  its 
future,  and  that  no  one  on  earth  can  claim  any  part  of  this  inheritance 
except  through  our  generosity.  We  believe,  too,  that  the  mission  of 
America  under  Almighty  God  is  to  perpetuate  and  develop  just  the 
kind  of  nation  and  just  the  kind  of  civilization  which  our  forefathers 
created  .  .  .  Also,  we  believe  .  . .  that  the  American  stock,  which  was 
bred  under  highly  selective  surroundings,  has  proved  its  value  and 
should  not  be  [through  intermarriage  with  the  foreign-born]  mongrel- 
ized  . .  .  Finally,  we  believe  that  all  foreigners  were  admitted  with  the 
idea,  and  on  the  basis  of  at  least  an  implied  understanding,  that  they 
would  .  .  .  adopt  our  ideas  and  ideals,  and  help  in  fulfilling  our 
destiny  along  those  lines,  but  never  that  they  should  be  permitted  to 
force  us  to  change  into  anything  else." 

To  the  Klansman  the  foreign-born  "problem"  readily  brought  to 
mind  two  other  questions,  universal  suffrage  and  immigration.  Re- 
garding the  former,  the  Klan  was  convinced  that  there  must  be  a 
"restricting  [of]  the  franchise  to  men  and  women  who  are  able 
through  birth  and  education  to  understand  Americanism . .  .  [which] 


22  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

means  practically  a  restriction  to  native-born  children  who  have  had 
the  benefit  of  the  training  given  by  the  American  educational  sy- 
stem ..."  As  to  immigration,  "since  American  thought  and  life  have 
been  and  are  being  prevented  from  their  true  course  by  excessive  alien 
mixture,"  the  secret  order  believed  in  "an  immediate  complete 
stoppage  of  immigration;  the  stoppage  to  remain  complete  until  reason 
appears  for  again  accepting  foreign  immigration." 

In  the  Dallas  speech  of  October  24,  1923,  in  which  he  declared 
Negroes  unworthy  of  American  nationality,  Evans  described  Catholics 
as  forming  an  element  "whose  assimilation  is  impossible  without 
the  gravest ,  danger  to  our  institutions,"  since  "no  nation  can  long 
endure  that  permits  a  higher  temporal  allegiance  than  to  its  own 
government." 

Regarding  Roman  Catholic  clerics,  the  Imperial  Wizard  had  some- 
thing special  to  say  about  their  being  incapable,  because  of  religious 
hindrance,  of  attaining  the  "100  per  cent  American  standard":  "To 
them  the  Presidency  at  Washington  is  subordinate  to  the  priesthood 
in  Rome.  The  parochial  school  alone  is  sufficient  proof  of  a  divided 
allegiance,  a  separatist  instinct.  They  demand  that  our  future  citizens 
be  trained  not  in  public  schools  but  under  the  control  and  influence  of 
a  priesthood  that  teaches  supreme  loyalty  to  a  religious  oligarchy 
that  is  not  even  of  American  domicile." 

But  the  Klan's  anti-Catholicism  stemmed  not  quite  so  much  from 
an  ignorance  of  Catholic  dogma  and  ritual  or  the  intentions  of  the 
Catholic  priesthood  as  it  did  from  the  belief  that  the  Catholic  Church 
already  controlled  the  votes  of  most  of  its  communicants,  and  was 
seeking  to  regain  fully  the  vast  political  power  it  had  in  centuries 
past.  I  Evans  said,  "The  real  objection  to  Romanism  in  America  is 
not  that  it  is  a  religion, — which  is  no  objection  at  all, — but  that  it  is 
a  church  in  politics;  an  organized,  disciplined,  powerful  rival  to  every 
political  government.  A  religion  in  politics  is  serious;  a  church  in 
politics  is  deadly  to  free  institutions." 

The  Klan  had  a  great  deal  to  say  about  the  "pure"  Americanism 
which  it  maintained  was  forever  beyond  the  grasp  of  Negroes,  Jews, 
the  foreign-born,  and  Catholics.  Ever  ready  was  the  secret  fraternity 
to  define  Americanism,  and  to  show  the  very  special  affinity  its  mem- 
bers possessed  for  this  phenomenon,  and  to  offer  counsel  on  how  a  loyal 
attachment  to  the  United  States  might  be  preserved,  and  even  devel- 
oped. 

Acclaimed  by  his  fellow  Knights  as  "about  the  most  100  per  cent 
American  of  all  the  100  per  cent  Americans  in  the  United  States," 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920' s  23 

Evans  surely  felt  confident  of  their  support  when  he  wrote  the  follow- 
ing passage  about  the  character  of  this  intangible  force,  Americanism, 
"It  has,  to  be  sure,  certain  defined  principles  . . .  Democracy  is  one,  fair 
dealing,  impartial  justice,  equal  opportunity,  religious  liberty,  inde- 
pendence, self-reliance,  courage,  endurance,  acceptance  of  individual 
responsibility  as  well  as  individual  rewards  for  effort,  willingness  to 
sacrifice  for  the  good  of  his  family,  his  nation  and  his  race  before 
anything  else  but  God,  dependence  on  enlightened  conscience  for 
guidance,  the  right  to  unhampered  development — these  are  funda- 
mental." 

Concerning  the  relationship  of  Knights  to  Americanism,  two  choice 
bits  from  Evans'  extended  remarks  on  the  subject  will  give  a  broad 
hint  of  official  Klan  thinking:  "The  Klan  is  an  organization  to  promote 
practical  patriotism — Americanism.  Its  ideal  is  to  restore  and  then  to 
preserve  and  develop  the  old,  fundamental  ideas  on  which  the  Na- 
tion was  founded  and  which  have  made  it  great . . .  ";  "He  [the  Klans- 
man]  believes  religiously  that  a  betrayal  of  Americanism  ...  is  treason 
to  the  most  sacred  of  trusts,  a  trust  from  his  fathers  and  a  trust  from 
God." 

The  Klan  believed  that  only  through  a  public  educational  system 
which  stressed  the  "value  and  beauty  of  true  citizenship"  could  a 
mighty  and  vibrant  America  be  created.  Therefore,  the  order  swore  to 
fight  for  the  extension  of  the  public  school  system  all  over  the  nation, 
in  spite  of  the  continuous  refusal  of  certain  bodies,  such  as  the 
Catholic  Church,  to  give  up  their  own  private  educational  programs. 

The  Klan's  interest  in  education,  however,  went  deeper  than  a 
concern  for  the  protection  of  the  public  elementary  and  secondary 
school  system. ;  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  order  felt  so  strongly  about  ed- 
ucation for  the  preservation  of  Americanism  that  it  made  two  separate 
attempts  to  set  up  a  Klan  college,  the  first  during  Simmons'  Imperial 
Wizardship  and  the  second  during  Evans'.  {  In  August,  1921,  the 
Klan  acquired  Lanier  University  in  Atlanta,  the  Baptist  institution  where 
Simmons  had  once  been  an  instructor  in  Southern  history.  Co-educa- 
tional, and  open  to  the  children  of  native-born,  white  Protestants  only, 
the  new  school  dedicated  itself  to  the  teaching  of  "pure,  100  per  cent 
Americanism."  Fairing  to  gain  an  adequate  enrollment,  the  Klan  gave 
up  this  academic  enterprise,  only  to  negotiate,  two  years  later,  for  the 
taking  over  of  Valparaiso  University  in  Valparaiso,  Indiana.  In  this 
instance,  however,  all  attempts  to  acquire  the  institution  met  with 
failure. 

The  Klan  cherished  a  belief  in  Protestant  Christian  doctrine.     Al- 


24  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

though  it  did  not  require  an  applicant  to  hold  church  membership, 
it  did  insist  upon  his  embracing  the  tenets  of  Protestantism.  The 
Klan  endorsed  no  one  religious  denomination.  Many  Knights,  how- 
ever, were  adherents  to  "the  old-time  religion,"  with  its  faith  in  the 
Bible  as  the  literal  and  unalterable  word  of  God.  So  many  Klans- 
men  (especially  those  of  the  South)  belonged  to  the  evangelical  sects 
that  the  public  came  to  think  that  one  of  the  articles  of  faith  of  the 
Klan  was  Fundamentalism.12 

Succinct  expression  of  the  official  religious  beliefs  of  the  secret  frater- 
nity was  once  given  by  Imperial  Klokard  William  James  Mahoney: 

"We  magnify  the  Bible — as  the  basis  of  our  Constitution,  the  founda- 
tion of  our  government,  the  source  of  our  laws,  the  sheet-anchor  of 
our  liberties,  the  most  practical  guide  of  right  living,  and  the  source 
of  all  true  wisdom. 

"We  teach  the  worship  of  God. 

"We  honor  the  Christ,  as  the  Klansman's  only  criterion  of  character. 
And  we  seek  at  His  hands  that  cleansing  from  sin  and  impurity,  which 
only  He  can  give. 

"We  believe  that  the  highest  expression  of  life  is  in  service  and  in 
sacrifice  for  that  which  is  right  ....  [and  that]  a  Klansman  must  be 
moved  by  unselfish  motives,  such  as  characterized  our  Lord  the  Christ, 
and  moved  Him  to  the  highest  service  and  the  supreme  sacrifice  for 
that  which  was  right." 

Religion  and  morals  go  hand  in  hand.  If  the  order  was  interested 
in  matters  of  religion,  it  was  preoccupied  with  the  question  of  morals. 
Consider,  for  example,  a  broadside  sent  out  by  the  Klan  in  Indiana. 
Taking  into  account  the  propaganda-recruitment  purpose  for  which  the 
handbill  was  intended,  and  disregarding  its  anti-Catholic  portions,  one 
easily  gathers  from  the  printed  sheet  that  the  Invisible  Empire  re- 
garded itself  as  a  mighty  bulwark  of  a  proper  code  of  morals.  "Re- 
member," the  handbill  read: 

"Every  criminal,  every  gambler,  every  thug,  every  libertine,  every 
girl  ruiner,  every  home  wrecker,  every  wife  beater,  every  dope  peddler, 
every  moonshiner,  every  crooked  politician,  every  pagan  Papist  priest, 
every  shyster  lawyer,  every  K.  of  C,  every  white  slaver,  every  brothel 
madam,  every  Rome  controlled  newspaper,  every  black  spider — is 
fighting  the  Klan.    Think  it  over.    Which  side  are  you  on?" 

In  one  issue  of  perhaps  the  most  outspoken  pro-Klan  newspaper  in 
the  entire  nation,  the  Houston  Colonel  May  field's  Weekly,  editor  Billie 
Mayfield  spelled  out  for  his  readers  the  specifics  of  the  order's  moral 
crusade: 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920 's  25 

"It  is  going  to  drive  the  bootleggers  forever  out  of  this  land  and 
place  whiskey-making  on  a  parity  with  counterfeiting. 

"It  is  going  to  bring  clean  moving  pictures  to  this  country;  it  is  going 
to  bring  clean  literature  to  this  country ...  It  is  going  to  break  up 
roadside  parking,  and  see  that  the  young  man  who  induces  a  young  girl 
to  get  drunk  is  held  accountable.  It  is  going  to  enforce  the  laws  of  this 
land;  it  is  going  to  protect  homes  . .  .  The  Klan  means  a  new  era  in 
the  life  of  America.  It  means  the  return  of  old  time  Southern  chivalry 
and  deference  to  womanhood;  it  means  that  the  married  man  with 
an  affinity'  has  no  place  in  our  midst." 

Noticeable  about  the  preceding  articles  of  faith  of  the  Klan  is  their 
defensive  nature.  The  secret  fraternity  aimed  to  preserve,  protect,  and 
prevent.  The  methods  used  to  carry  out  this  regulative  program  (in 
addition  to  the  common  propaganda  techniques  so  many  organiza- 
tions employ)  might  be  reduced  to  the  following:  (1)  "Klannishness"; 
(2)  charitable  enterprise;  (3)  "meddling"  and  terrorism;  (4)  political 
activity. 

Of  all  the  methods  employed  by  the  Klan  to  carry  out  its  regulative 
program,  the  one  used  most  frequently  by  the  membership  was  the 
practicing  of  Klannishness.  To  an  inhabitant  of  the  Invisible  Empire 
Klannishness  meant,  basically,  two  things:  protecting  the  reputation, 
physical  being,  and  business  interests  of  a  Klansman  and  his  family; 
and  defending  America's  flag,  Constitution,  laws  and  mores. 

Imperial  Wizard  Evans  once  described  the  various  facets  of  Klan- 
nishness. According  to  him,  there  were  three  separate  aspects  of  a 
Klansman's  relationship  to  his  confreres — social,  moral,  and  vocational. 
Regarding  vocational  Klannishness  he  wrote,  "Patronize  Klan  business, 
turn  profits  to  Klansmen  if  possible.  *You  must  not  tell  this  person  why 
you  insist  on  him  seeing  this  particular  real  estate  man,  other  than  that 
he  is  worthy  and  deals  honorably.  He  is  a  Klansman  and  you  can 
safely  recommend  him.' " 

f  It  is  only  natural  for  a  fraternal  organization  to  encourage  business 
intercourse  among  its  members.  The  practical  application  of  the  posi- 
tive philosophy  of  vocational  Klannishness,  however,  came  to  mean  the 
very  negative  practice  of  boycotting.  ( Knights  were  never  ordered  to 
stop  trading  with  a  particular  businessman;  they  were  simply  given 
information  to  show  that  the  individual  in  question  was,  for  one  reason 
or  another,  an  undesirable  member  of  the  community.  Free  either  to 
act  or  not  on  such  information,  all  Klansmen  seem  to  have  chosen  the 
former  course.  To  illustrate,  at  a  meeting  of  a  local  Klan  in  a  town 
in  northern  Ohio,  one  of  the  officers  made  the  following  remarks: 


26  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

"I  wish  to  tell  you  some  of  the  things  your  fellow-townsmen  have 
done.  The  Elite  Clothing  Store  sells  half-cotton  goods  as  pure  wool. 
Arthur  Fredericks,  a  doctor,  is  a  dope  user.  John  Polaris,  a  restaurant- 
keeper,  has  been  trafficking  in  women.  Michael  OTlynn's  soft-drink 
parlor  sells  white  mule.  Walter  Peters  got  a  slice  of  that  paving 
contract  graft.  Jim  Brady,  the  cigar-store  man,  has  a  starving  wife  in 
Omaha  and  has  been  making  love  to  some  girls  here.  Benjamin  Strauss, 
the  dry-goods  man,  underpays  his  girls,  and  besides  expects  too  much 
from  them — you  understand.  Fred  Preston's  drugstore  will  give  you  the 
white  stuff  if  you  know  the  sign.  John  Barton  joined  the  Klan  just  to 
get  trade,  and  has  been  turned  out." 

The  speech,  noteworthy  for  its  comprehensiveness  and  lack  (on  the 
surface,  at  least)  of  racial  or  religious  antipathy,  contained  no  recom- 
mendation for  a  course  of  action  on  the  part  of  the  audience.  Klans- 
men  in  that  town,  however,  took  much  pride  in  the  fact  that  over  a 
period  of  time  sixty  business  establishments  had  fully  succumbed  to 
their  boycotting  measures. 

In  the  eyes  of  the  public,  a  much  less  defensible  boycotting  which 
developed  out  of  the  practice  of  vocational  Klannishness  was  the 
shunning  of  business  concerns  simply  because  the  proprietor  or  his 
help  was  Negro,  Catholic,  Jewish,  or  foreign-born.  The  Klan,  it  is 
interesting  to  note,  was  once  actually  induced  by  a  virulently  anti- 
Catholic  organization  to  boycott  a  famous  brand  of  cigarettes,  Camels, 
because  they  were  manufactured  by  a  concern  said  to  have  been  con- 
trolled by  a  well-known  Catholic  capitalist,  Thomas  Fortune  Ryan. 

Of  all  the  activities  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  the  one  which  was 
least  open  to  attack  by  critics  of  the  Klan  was  its  participation  in 
charitable  enterprises.  I  Members  of  the  order  were  commanded  to  act 
collectively  to  "relieve  the  injured  and  the  opressed;  to  succor  the 
suffering  and  unfortunate,  especially  widows  and  orphans."  Although 
the  national  body  rarely  conducted  a  charity  campaign  of  its  own, 
and  the  local  chapter  generally  did  not  participate  in  the  organized 
drives  conducted  by  the  community  to  which  it  belonged,  the  latter 
often  gave  a  great  deal  of  aid  to  the  individually  needy.  It  was  usual 
for  the  chapter  to  have  a  special  committee  which  would  investigate 
requests  for  charity.  The  recipients  of  all  Klan  benevolence  were 
native-born,  white  Protestants,  and  the  families  of  members  were 
given  preference.18 

A  most  common  form  of  Klan  almsgiving  was  the  aiding  of  a  minister 
and  his  congregation.  Customarily,  a  handful  of  Klansmen,  decked 
out  in  full  regalia,  would  enter  a  church  during  services,  advance 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920 's  27 

silently  toward  the  pulpit,  present  the  pastor  with  an  envelope  contain- 
ing money,  and  then  file  out  quickly  and  quiedy.  On  Palm  Sunday, 
1922,  at  the  Westminster  Presbyterian  Church  in  Sacramento,  Califor- 
nia, for  example: 

"...  six  supposed  members  of  the  mystic  order  appeared  with  the 
suddenness  of  an  apparition  .  .  .  shortly  after  the  close  of  the  evening 
sermon,  marched  to  the  altar  with  the  precision  of  a  military  drill 
squad,  and  handed  the  Rev.  William  E.  Harrison,  the  pastor,  a  sealed 
envelope,  which  contained  a  new  $50  bank  note  and  a  typewritten 
letter  explaining  the  gift  and  commending  the  work  of  the  minister. 

"Moving  in  unison  they  left  as  quickly  as  they  came,  never  uttering 
a  sound.  .  .  .  No  one  could  be  found  .  .  .  who  saw  them  approach  the 
church  or  who  witnessed  their  departure  or  the  means  of  their  con- 
veyance. .  .  ." 

A  congregation  that  might  have  been  displeased  at  having  its  services 
interrupted  by  hooded  and  robed  figures  was  usually  too  startled  to 
do  anything  but  accept  the  gift  docilely.  There  is  one  instance  on 
record,  however,  of  an  unheralded  visit  by  Klansmen  which  ended 
with  their  being  routed  by  a  particularly  husky  and  irate  usher. 

Of  all  the  practices  of  Klansmen,  the  one  most  often  and  vehement- 
ly criticized  was  the  taking  of  a  meddling  or  terroristic  course  of  action 
in  an  attempt  to  prescribe  personal  conduct.  I  It  appears  that  each 
local  Klan  decided  its  chief  task  was  the  regulation  of  the  morals  of 
the  community  in  which  it  existed.!  A  typical  chapter  operated  some- 
thing like  this:  every  Knight  considered  himself  a  dectective  whose 
duty  it  was  to  go  about  the  community  spying  on  the  morals  of  his 
fellow  residents,  the  objects  of  the  surveillance  being  entirely  unaware 
of  it,  as  only  Klansmen  knew  who  the  members  of  the  order  were. 
When  the  chapter  met,  every  Knight  reported  the  information  he  had 
collected  on  his  neighbors'  morals.  The  assembled  body  then  passed 
judgment  on  each  case,  after  which  it  decided  the  course  of  action 
necessary  and  proper  for  the  reforming  of  immorality. 

The  local  Klan's  course  of  action  in  the  reforming  of  personal  con- 
duct usually  resulted  in  the  chapter's  appointing  a  select  committee 
which  remonstrated  with  the  delinquent  on  the  evil  of  his  ways.  If 
thi§  approach  failed  to  bring  about  an  improvement  in  conduct,  the 
chapter  then  reported  him  and  his  sins  to  the  police,  offering  to  those 
officials  its  full  moral  support.  Should  the  law  authorities  fail  to  act 
( in  which  case  the  local  Klan  attempted  to  retire  them  from  office  and 
fill  their  places  with  individuals  deemed  more  worthy,  preferably 
Klansmen),  and  should  the  wrongdoer  still  remain  unregenerate,  the 


28  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

chapter  then  turned  to  a  more  extreme  measure  —  ostracism,  perhaps. 

The  local  Klan  expected  its  program  of  ostracism  to  force  the 
wrongdoer  into  self-imposed  exile.  An  actual  case  of  a  chapter's  use 
of  ostracism  is  worth  citing.  In  a  town  of  an  eastern  state,  a  hard- 
working, rather  reliable  young  man  was  engaging  in  an  illicit  sexual 
relationship  with  a  notoriously  wanton  woman.  Threatened  by  tele- 
phone that  he  would  regret  it  if  he  did  not  leave  his  mistress  within 
three  days,  he  chose  to  remain  with  her.  Four  days  later  his  employer 
fired  him.  The  following  day  his  landlord  demanded  an  exorbitant 
raise  in  rent.  The  milkman  no  longer  went  to  the  door.  The  butcher 
failed  to  stop  his  wagon.  Merchants  treated  him  with  rudeness  in 
their  shops,  some  telling  him  bluntly  that  his  patronage  was  no  longer 
desired.  By  the  end  of  the  week  only  one  grocer  (in  defiance  of  a 
telephone  warning )  would  sell  the  man  food,  and  this  storekeeper  was 
shortly  brought  into  line  by  the  loss  of  nearly  three-quarters  of  his 
trade.  Within  two  weeks  the  local  Klan's  program  of  ostracism  had 
fully  proved  itself.  The  newly-created  pariah  moved  to  a  hovel  out- 
side of  town,  where  a  few  friends  gave  him  aid  and  comfort  until  he 
was  able  to  find  employment  and  settle  down  elsewhere. 

Rarely  did  any  local  Klan  resort  to  a  physical  disciplining  of  an  in- 
dividual who  had  offended  against  its  moral  ideas.  | When  a  chapter 
did  so,  the  press  naturally  gave  the  incident  a  great  deal  of  coverage. 
Following  are  some  illustrations  of  the  Klan's  use  of  corporal  punish- 
ment. In  October,  1920,  an  attorney  from  Yonkers,  New  York,  Peter 
McMahon,  while  in  the  South  to  assist  a  client  in  a  dispute  over  an 
estate,  was  taken  from  a  train  at  Trenton,  South  Carolina,  and  beaten 
by  a  gang  of  individuals  dressed  as  Klansmen.  On  April  1,  1921,  a 
Negro  bellhop  from  a  Dallas  hotel  was  abducted  by  a  group  of  hooded 
men  who  branded  him  with  acid  on  the  forehead  with  the  letters 
"K.  K.  K."  Two  months  later,  in  Tenaha,  Texas,  a  woman  believed  to 
have  been  committing  adultery  was  seized,  stripped  of  her  clothing, 
and  tarred  and  feathered.  Another  resident  of  the  state,  a  woman 
from  Goose  Creek,  was  kidnapped  by  hooded  and  robed  men  who 
cut  off  her  hair  and  tacked  the  tresses  to  a  post  in  the  center  of  town. 
On  July  16,  1921,  a  sixty-eight  year  old  farmer  was  whipped  in  War- 
rensburg,  Missouri.  The  following  day,  in  Miami,  Florida,  an  arch- 
deacon of  the  Episcopal  Church  was  whipped,  tarred  and  feather- 
ed. A  few  days  later  a  man  and  woman  at  Birmingham,  Alabama, 
received  a  flogging  at  the  hands  of  a  mob.  In  August,  1921,  in  Mason 
City,  Iowa,  persons  who  "preferred  to  be  known  as  the  Ku  Klux  Klan" 
forced  a  Socialist,  Mrs.  Ida  Couch  Hazlett,  from  a  speaker's  platform 


-V 


EXPANSION  IN  THE   1920' 's  29 

into  a  car,  drove  her  to  the  outskirts  of  the  city,  and  threw  her  out  with 
a  threat  of  greater  physical  violence  if  she  returned.  That  same  month, 
in  Tulsa,  Oklahoma,  a  ne'er-do-well  by  the  name  of  Nathan  Hantaman 
was  dragged  by  Klansmen  from  his  residence  to  a  waiting  car  which 
deposited  him  just  outside  the  city,  where  he  was  whipped  until  his 
back  was  a  swollen  mass  of  ugly  welts.  On  August  24,  1922,  near 
Mer  Rouge,  Louisiana,  while  returning  from  a  picnic,  two  arch-critics 
of  the  local  Klan  of  that  town,  Filmore  Watt  Daniels  and  Thomas  F. 
Richards,  were  seized  by  hooded  men.  Two  months  later  the  badly 
decomposed  corpses  of  Daniels  and  Richards  were  found  floating  on 
nearby  Lake  La  Fourche.11 

|  Two  points  must  be  made  regarding  the  preceding  illustrations  of 
Klan  violence,  as  indeed  of  any  case  of  Klan  lawlessness.  First,  since 
the  individuals  committing  the  assaults  were  hidden  behind  regalia, 
they  could  just  as  easily  have  not  been  members  of  the  secret  order. 
Second,  if  the  men  who  engaged  in  these  outrages  were  Knights,  they 
could  have  been  taking  action  without  first  obtaining  the  approval  of 
the  local  chapter  as  a  whole,     f 

Of  all  the  methods  used  by  the  Klan  in  the  1920's  to  put  into  effect 
its  program,  the  one  concerning  which  the  scantiest  records  of  the 
secret  order  were  left,  the  one  about  which  contemporary  observers 
had  the  most  to  say  supported  by  the  least  evidence,  and  the  one  which 
later  students  of  the  organization  tended  to  avoid  treating,  was  its 
engaging  in  political  activity.  *  Thus  it  follows  that  of  all  the  many  , 
important  aspects  of  the  Klan  the  least  understood  is  its  role  in  Ameri- 
can politics.  /  What  various  Knights  have  said  about  whether  the 
order  actually  was,  or  should  have  been,  in  politics,  will  certainly  shed 
light  on  that  area  of  the  Invisible  Empire's  activity. 


Chapter  III 

THE  KLAN  ENTERS  THE  POLITICAL  ARENA 

The  political  influence  of  the  Klan  during  the  1920's  was  far  greater 
than  its  numerical  strength  would  indicate.  The  order  had  developed 
into  the  most  energetic  leader  of  the  many  millions  of  Americans  who 
adhered  to  a  brand  of  politics  derived  from  chauvinism  and  religio- 
racial  antipathies. 

In  1925  The  National  Kourier,  an  official  newspaper  of  the  Klan, 
declared  that  it  would  not  be  very  long  before  all  political  parties 
would  have  to  "reckon"  with  the  Invisible  Empire.  There  is  in  the 
remark  an  underlying  note  of  rejoicing.  Such  exultation,  however, 
pales  next  to  any  one  of  many  boasts  made  by  Klansmen  regarding 
their  organization's  political  power.  Bragging  there  was  about  the 
tremendous  influence  the  Invisible  Empire  would  soon  have  on  every 
branch  of  the  local,  state,  and  federal  governments.  This  boasting  of 
Knights  about  the  political  strength  of  their  organization  must  have 
led  the  merely  curious  outsiders  as  well  as  the  deeply  concerned  ob- 
servers to  ask  themselves  why  Klansmen  considered  it  so  very  neces- 
sary for  the  Invisible  Empire  to  be  a  powerful  political  force  in  the 
nation,  and  how  they  believed  their  order  could  achieve  such  force. 
{  As  to  why,  Klansmen  had  a  variety  of  things  to  say.  First,  the 
political  power  of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  had  to  be  destroyed,  f 
The  May,  1923,  issue  of  the  widely  circulated  Klan  magazine,  The 
Imperial  Night-Hawk,  petulantly  told  its  readers,  "Wails  of  indigna- 
tion arise  from  Catholics  about  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  taking 
part  in  politics,  yet  it  is  all  right  for  Catholic  fraternal  orders  to  line 
up  votes  for  Catholic  candidates  and  support  at  the  polls  the  policies 
of  Rome."  Later  that  year  Evans  felt  compelled  to  announce  that 
"until  such  time  as  the  Roman  Catholic  hierarchy  announces  Christ's 
doctrine  of  supremacy  of  State  over  Church  in  governmental  affairs, 
we  shall  steadfastly  oppose  the  political  interference  of  Roman  Catholic 
organizations  in  political  matters  in  America." 

Second,  whatever  political  influence  the  Negroes,  Jews,  and  foreign- 
born  possessed  had  to  be  checked.  The  deliverer  (his  name  was 
withheld  from  publication)  of  one  of  the  "Inspirational  Addresses"  of 
the  Second  Imperial  Klonvokation,  held  in  Kansas  City,  Missouri,  in 

30 


THE  KLAN  ENTERS  THE  POLITICAL  ARENA  37 

September,  1924,  noted:  "They  talk  about  eliminating  the  Klan  from 
politics.  When  you  have  eliminated  the  Polish  bloc  from  politics 
in  America,  and  the  Italian  bloc,  and  the  Negro  bloc,  and  the  Jewish 
bloc,  .  .  .  then  with  reason  you  can  begin  to  talk  about  the  elimination 
of  other  blocs.  Speaking  before  a  group  of  white  supremacists 
in  Atlanta  on  political  conditions  in  that  city,  "Colonel"  Simmons,  in 
less  than  temperate  phrases,  put  forward  the  Klan's  method  for  sti- 
fling the  politically  stirring  Negroes  of  the  capital  of  Georgia  in  partic- 
ular and  of  the  nation  in  general: 

"I  am  informed  that  every  *buck  nigger'  .  .  .  who  attains  the  age  of 
twenty-one  years,  has  gotten  the  money  to  pay  his  poll  tax  and  register, 
and  that .  .  .  these  apes  are  going  to  line  up  at  the  polls,  mixed  up  there 
with  white  men  and  white  women. 

"Lord,  forgive  me,  but  that  is  the  most  sickening  and  disgusting  sight 
you  ever  saw.  You've  got  to  change  that.  .  .  .  [Klansmen]  will  go,  if 
they  can,  to  the  Governor's  chair,  or  the  Presidency  of  this  nation. 
There  is  only  one  way  to  stop  it.  That  is  to  out-vote  them.  This  is  a 
sacred  duty  that  we  must  measure  up  to.  .  .  .  Keep  the  negro  .  .  .  where 
he  belongs.    They  have  got  no  part  in  our  political  or  social  life." 

Third,  politicians  who  prostituted  themselves,  in  any  manner,  in 
order  to  attain  or  maintain  office  must  be  denied  positions  of  public 
trust.  >i  One  leading  Klansman,  a  well-known  New  York  City  physician, 
and  an  officer  of  the  Fifth  Avenue  church  to  which  he  belonged,  while 
having  no  right  to  speak  officially  for  his  fraternity,  must  have  conveyed 
the  feelings  of  every  one  of  his  fellow  Knights  when  he  said,  "Every- 
body knows  that  politicians  nowadays  cater  to  all  kinds  of  'elements,' 
mostly  selfish,  some  corrupt,  and  some  definitely  anti-American.  They 
cater  to  the  .  .  .  bootleg  vote,  the  vice  vote,  and  sometimes  even  the 
violently  criminal  vote.  What  the  Klan  intends  to  do  is  to  make  them 
pay  some  attention  to  .  . .  the  decent,  God-fearing,  law-abiding  vote."l 
"Ability  and  purity  in  public  life  are  our  greatest  objectives,"  a  prom- 
inent Klansman  declared  about  himself  and  his  confreres  during  an 
interview  conducted  by  a  close  observer  of  the  order,  Edward  Price 
Bell  of  the  Chicago  Daily  News.  "Only  ability  and  purity  in  public 
life,  in  our  opinion,"  the  Knight  went  on  to  say,  "can  save  democracy. 
When  we  fight  for  these  things,  therefore,  we  are  fighting  for  demo- 
cracy." 

\  How  did  Klansmen  believe  that  their  organization  could  become  the 
powerful  force  in  American  politics  they  so  desired?  First,  they  satis- 
fied themselves  that  just  informing  the  public  of  the  patriotic,  religious, 
and  moral  aspects  of  the  Klan's  ideology  could  have  a  positive  effect 


32  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

upon  the  nation's  political  morality.  I  In  his  volume  on  the  Invisible 
Empire,  Leroy  Amos  Curry,  an  unsuccessful  candidate  for  Congress 
from  Oklahoma  and  one  of  the  functionaries  of  the  Disciples  of  Christ, 
wrote  the  following  about  the  fraternal  order  of  which  he  was  one  of 
the  apologists  extraordinary:  "I  believe  that  this  great  organization 
can  render  an  immeasurable  service  to  the  people  of  this  country  when 
those  seeking  political  office  are  led  to  a  more  elevated  plane  of 
thought  and  activity  by  the  ideals  of  this  institution.  .  .  ." 
r  Second,  Knights  attached  great  weight  to  the  secret  fraternity's  ef- 
fectiveness in  directing  the  voting  of  the  American  electorate,  both 
the  Klan  and  non-Klan  elements,  through  an  organized  information 
service.  \E.  H.  Lougher,  a  Klansman  from  Kentucky,  while  writing 
about  the  political  hold  of  the  secret  fraternity  on  the  Blue  Grass  State, 
contended  that  the  Klan  never  attempted  to  "control"  votes;  it  had  a 
"higher,  safer"  program.  "The  Klan  will  educate  and  influence  the 
public  to  vote  for  the  best  candidates  in  every  election,  regardless  of 
party,"  he  explained.  "It  has  been  demonstrated  absolutely  this  can 
be  done.  Give  people  full  and  complete  information  on  every  candi- 
date, who  and  what  he  is.  Tell  men  facts  about  all  issues  from  sources 
they  can  trust.  Then  leave  it  to  them  to  form  their  own  opinions  and 
exercise  their  own  judgment."  In  the  October  27,  1923,  issue  of  perhaps 
the  most  significant  Klan  magazine,  The  Dawn,  there  appeared  an 
article  by  the  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Illinois,  entitled  "The 
Attitude  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  Toward  Politics  and  Political  Parties,"  a 
portion  of  which  follows : 

"Let  each  Organization,  Great  Titan  and  Field  Man  immediately 
send  in  to  this  office  their  recommendations  along  political  lines,  Na- 
tional, State  and  County  officers,  for  the  approaching  election  for  our 
careful  consideration  and  investigation  of  the  respective  candidates 
as  to  their  qualifications,  experience,  etc.,  with  a  view  to  disseminating 
that  information  to  the  Klansmen  with  our  recommendation,  indorse- 
ment or  comment  for  their  guidance  at  the  polls,  so  that  they  may  cast 
an  intelligent  ballot,  predicated  upon  prior  information,  data,  and 
investigation,  showing  the  true  facts  about  the  respective  candidates' 
qualifications  or  lack  of  ability  to  fill  the  position  to  which  he  aspires. 
. . .  There  is  no  excuse  for  the  Klansman  elector  going  to  the  polls 
uninformed  as  to  who  is  running  and  who  is  best  qualified  for  the 
particular  position.  This  information  can  always  be  secured  from 
these  headquarters,  as  we  make  it  our  business  to  know  who  is  running 
for  office  in  this  State.  We  are  always  ready,  able  and  willing  to  give 
authentic  information   concerning   all   candidates   for  any  particular 


THE  KLAN  ENTERS  THE  POLITICAL  ARENA  33 

office  and  with  such  information  the  elector  can  weigh  their  qualifica- 
tions for  himself  and  act  accordingly,  or  even  accept  the  recommenda- 
tions of  tins  office  with  full  assurance  that  they  are  made  impartially 
without  preference  to  party  alliances,  but  solely  on  the  merits  of  the 
particular  candidate  endorced  [sic]  and  a  vote  for  such  a  candidate 
would  be  intelligently  cast." 

Now  and  then  a  publication  of  the  order  went  a  step  further  than 
merely  furnishing  information  of  a  political  nature  to  help  Knights 
decide  for  themselves  what  candidates  to  support.  In  one  issue  of  The 
Watcher  on  the  Tower,  a  Klan  magazine  published  weekly  in  Seattle, 
Washington,  there  appeared  a  directive  to  the  subscribers  which  read 
as  follows :  "Get  behind  the  100%  candidates  for  your  next  commission- 
ers. You  Know  Who  They  Are.  One  of  the  present  incumbents 
must  be  defeated;  one  should  have  your  support.  For  the  Commission- 
er of  Finance,  if  you  do  not  already  know  who  is  worthy,  Ask  a 
Klansman." 
/^j  I  Third,  Klansmen  put  their  full  trust  in  their  order's  unflagging  deter- 
\J  rhination  and  ever-increasing  ability  to  swing  elections  by  supporting 
or  opposing  —  as  a  body  —  particular  candidates  or  party  tickets.1 
"Moving  in  solid  phalanx  at  the  ballot  box,"  Klansmen  resolved  "to 
put  men  who  are  100  per  cent  American  in  charge  of  the  affairs  of  the 
nation,"  a  pamphlet  of  the  order  by  C.  Lewis  Fowler  announced. 
During  the  period  when  the  anti-Klan  forces  were  working  the  hardest 
to  prove  the  lawlessness  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  one  Knight,  George 
Estes,  wrote  that  "Neither  the  Klan  as  a  body  nor  any  of  its  individual 
members  has  perpetrated  any  crimes  whatever  except  it  be  the  crime 
of  voting  judiciously  at  the  state  elections."  To  the  Klansmen  of 
Kansas,  Charles  H.  McBrayer,  the  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of 
Kansas,  issued  this  statement  regarding  elections  in  their  state: 

"Of  course  you  realize  that  it  is  necessary  for  us  to  move  in  solid 
formation  if  we  [are  to]  bring  about  the  results  we  all  desire.  There- 
fore, it  is  considered  best  for  all  of  us  to  refrain  from  pledging  our 
support  as  an  individual  to  any  candidate,  until  after  all  information 
has  been  assembled,  and  the  Klansmen  in  the  state  have  expressed  a 
sentiment  for  certain  candidates.  After  this  has  happened,  it  will  then 
be  very  essential  that  we  all  support  the  same  candidate,  in  so  far  as 
political  party  alignment  will  permit." 

Included  in  the  works  on  the  Invisible  Empire  by  "Klanswoman" 
Alma  Birdwell  White  of  New  Jersey,  who  enjoyed  local  fame  as  a 
lecturer,  preacher,  and  founder  of  Bible  institutes,  were  many  political 
cartoons.     One  depicted  a  Klansman  in  full  regalia,  holding  in  his 


34  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

hand  a  club  labeled  "ballot,"  chasing  off  three  characters  whom  he 
considered  politically  powerful  —  the  anti-Prohibitionist,  the  Jew 
(attached  to  whom  were  tags  reading  "corrupting  movies"  and  "im- 
modest fashions" ) ,  and  the  Catholic  priest;  another  portrayed  a  Knight, 
properly  attired  in  the  order's  garb,  wielding  a  huge  club  labeled  "the 
ballot"  against  a  hairy,  boney-fingered,  long-nailed  hand  marked 
"Rome,"  grasping  for  land  entitled  "U.S.A.";  still  another  cartoon 
showed  an  army  of  Klansmen  standing  in  quasi-battle  formation  as 
some  of  its  number  were  battering  down  the  walls  of  political  Roman 
Catholicism  with  tremendous  logs  on  which  were  written  "mens  votes," 
"womens  votes,"  and  "the  ballot." 

The  Dawn  also  had  its  share  of  political  cartoons.  One  very  strik- 
ing drawing,  for  example,  entitled  "If  They  are  Wise  a  Word  is  Suf- 
ficient," was  of  the  Republican  elephant  and  the  Democratic  donkey, 
each  of  which  had  a  worried  look  on  its  face,  being  told  by  the  Klan 
(typified  by  a  hooded  and  robed  Knight),  "Gentlemen,  if  you  expect 
my  support  you  must  First  clean  House.  Get  rid  of  your  rotten  Politi- 
cians, and  construct  your  platforms  on  sound  American  principles." 

Last  of  all,  Klansmen  took  it  for  granted  that  they  should  be  ever 
willing,  when  duty  called,  to  throw  their  "hoods  into  the  ring."  "When 
necessity  demands  that  they  [Klansmen]  enter  the  political  arena  no 
motive  other  than  that  of  service  to  others  can  actuate  them,"  The 
Dawn  declared.  "A  desire  to  bring  about  law  enforcement;  to  wipe 
out  immorality,  to  improve  the  public  land  system,  aid  in  solving  the 
immigration  problem,  —  these  are  the  things  that  will  compel  Klans- 
men to  accept  public  office  at  the  hands  of  that  vast  majority  of  their 
fellow  Americans  who  have  similar  ideals  of  what  public  service 
means." 

Interesting  it  is  that  practically  every  spokesman  for  the  Klan  who 
admitted  that  the  organization  was  in  politics  denied  it  at  some  other 
time.  ^While  the  material  available  in  which  Klansmen  deny  that  their 
fraternity  was  actively  engaged  in  American  politics  is  not  nearly 
so  extensive  as  that  in  which  they  admit  to  it,  it  is,  nevertheless,  large 
enough  to  be  taken  into  consideration  and  dealt  with  at  some  length. 
i  It.  must  be  noted  at  the  outset,  however,  that  even  the  little  material 
available  in  which  Klansmen  disavow  their  order's  being  occupied  with 
matters  political  fails  to  impress  —  because  of  what  is  said  and  how 
it  is  said  —  later  students  of  the  organization. 

At  the  first  annual  meeting  of  the  Grand  Dragons,  held  in  Asheville, 
North  Carolina,  in  July,  1923,  a  Great  Titan  of  the  Realm  of  Texas 
delivered  a  paper  emphasizing  that  the  Invisible  Empire  was  not  in 


THE  KLAN  ENTERS  THE  POLITICAL  ARENA  35 

politics.  He  maintained  that  although  the  Klan  demanded  of  its 
members  a  patriotism  toward  the  United  States  which  could  not  be 
proved  other  than  by  participating  in  the  nation's  politics,  "the  organi- 
zation which  we  here  represent  is  not  a  political  organization." 

From  Lougher,  the  Kentucky  Klansman,  came  this  notably  ambigu- 
ous declaration:  "The  Klan  is  not  a  political  party.  We  believe  that 
to  identify  the  Klan  with  or  espouse  the  cause  of  any  political  party 
would  be  fatal  to  the  organization  and  to  the  real  worth  of  the  crusade. 
The  Klan,  however,  is  mighty  active  politically,  and  every  Klansman 
is  a  politician  in  the  highest  sense  of  the  word." 

What  did  those  who  were  best  able  to  speak  for  the  order — Simmons, 
Clarke,  and  Evans  —  offer  to  bolster  the  assertion  that  the  Invisible 
Empire  did  not  seek  to  participate  in  politics?  Even  in  its  early  days 
the  secret  fraternity  had  been  charged,  mostly  by  newspapermen,  with 
taking  part  in  local  and  state  politics.  Thus  it  was  that  during  the 
Congressional  investigation  of  Klan  activities  held  in  1921,  Imperial 
Wizard  Simmons  felt  compelled  to  make  a  statement  magnificently 
unequivocal:  "The  Ku-Klux  Klan  is  not  a  political  organization,  nor 
does  it  seek  political  power,  although  this  has  been  charged  against 
us."  Uttered  Imperial  Kleagle  Clarke:  the  Klan  "is  not  a  political 
party,  it  will  take  no  part  in  political  controversies,  and  it  has  nothing 
to  do  with  partizan  [sic]  issues.  Klansmen  will  follow  the  dictates  of 
their  individual  conscience  in  casting  their  votes.  As  an  organization, 
we  have  no  candidates  —  no  favored  party." 

Addressing  himself  to  the  task  of  demonstrating  that  the  Klan  was 
not  in  politics,  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  had  more  to  contribute  than 
Simmons  and  Clarke.  To  the  question  put  to  him  during  an  interview 
conducted  by  Bell,  the  Chicago  newspaperman,  "What  do  you  mean 
when  you  say  the  Klan,  as  such,  will  take  no  part  in  politics?"  Evans 
replied: 

"I  mean  that  the  Klan  is  not  a  political  party.  Klansmen  may  belong 
and  do  belong  to  all  parties  and  to  no  party.  Every  Klansman  knows 
his  principles  and  he  votes  for  the  candidate  or  the  party  in  whose 
hands  he  regards  his  principles  as  safe  or  comparatively  safe.  To  be 
sure,  Klansmen,  like  other  men,  will  use  their  influence  to  have  parties 
and  candidates  further  their  objects;  and,  equally  to  be  sure,  if  a  candi- 
date appears  in  the  political  arena  blatently  proclaiming  his  hostility 
to  our  order  and  his  purpose  to  destroy  it  if  he  can,  Klansmen  are 
likely  to  vote  against  him." 

At'  the  Klonvokation  held  in  Kansas  City,  Missouri,  in  September, 
1924,  Evans,  after  outlining  the  future  aims  of  the  order,  shouted, 


36  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

"The  Klan  is  not  in  politics,  neither  is  it  a  political  party."  He  con- 
tinued, "We  will  permit  no  political  party  and  no  group  of  politicians 
to  annex,  own,  disown,  or  disavow  us.  Where  our  conscience  leads 
us,  we  will  be  found,  regardless  of  who  we  find  in  the  different  political 
camps."  A  few  years  later  the  Imperial  Wizard  again  denied  a  link 
between  the  Klan  and  political  parties.  "Neither  the  Republican  party 
nor  the  Democratic  party  .  .  .  has  ever  directly  or  indirectly  furnished 
a  single  dollar  to  the  Klan  for  any  purpose  whatever.  The  Klan  seeks 
no  political  preferment  and  has  no  political  affiliations."  Such  was  a 
portion  of  the  statement  issued  by  Evans  in  reply  to  the  charge  that 
the  secret  fraternity  was  being  financed  by  the  Republican  national 
committee  in  order  to  gain  its  support  against  the  Democratic  party 
in  the  presidential  election  of  1928. 

Prompted  by  reports  from  critics  of  the  Klan  as  to  irregularities 
regarding  the  order's  finances,  Evans  came  forward  in  October,  1928, 
with  a  promulgation,  in  which  he  first  disputed  that  the  organization 
was  insolvent,  next  declared  that  the  Klan  would  be  able  to  prove  that 
it  was  not  spending  any  money  in  politics,  and  then  added  (as  if  an 
afterthought)  that  members  of  the  Klan,  including  the  Imperial  Wiz- 
ard, did  not  desire  public  office. 

But  of  all  the  disavowals  by  Evans  of  the  Invisible  Empire's  being 
in  politics,  the  one  that  must  have  instantly  arrested  the  attention  of 
the  contemporary  observer  of  the  order  was  made  in  Dallas,  Texas,  on 
March  12,  1926:  "The  policies  of  the  Klan  have  been  changed,  and 
it  is  now  completely  out  of  politics.  It  is  not  interested  in  the  candidacy 
of  any  man  or  woman."  Perhaps  Evans  momentarily  lost  sight  of  the 
fact  that  being  "now  completely  out  of"  an  activity  could  mean  only 
one  thing — that  it  had  once  been  engaged  in  the  activity. 

It  should  be  emphasized  that  being  a  political  party  and  being 
engaged  in  politics  are  not  the  same  thing;  the  latter  can  stand  in- 
dependent of  the  former.  The  affirmation  by  Klansmen  that  their 
order  was  not  a  political  party  can  be  readily  accepted.  However,  the 
assertion  by  Knights  that  although  some  of  their  confreres,  like  many 
other  American  citizens,  actively  engaged  in  politics,  the  Klan  as  an 
organization  did  not  do  so,  is  unacceptable.  ]  For  there  are  facts  to 
show  that  the  Klan  as  an  organization  did  make  a  serious  effort  to 
become  a  significant  power  in  the  nation's  politics. 

The  secret  fraternity  came  to  realize  that  to  achieve  this  goal  of 
power  it  would  be  necessary  to  adopt  the  methods  of  an  American 
political  machine.  From  embracing  such  a  policy  the  order  suffered 
three  deleterious  effects  —  it  aroused  the  wrath  of  the  American  public, 


THE  KLAN  ENTERS  THE  POLITICAL  ARENA  37 

which  did  not  want  a  fraternal  organization  active  in  the  political  field; 
it  had  to  rely  upon  whatever  skill  was  possessed  by  its  leaders,  the 
overwhelming  number  of  whom  lacked  political  training  and  experience, 
and  thus  political  acumen;  it  dissipated  its  energies  on  all  sorts  of  mat- 
ters political  on  each  of  the  three  governmental  levels  —  local,  state, 
and  national. 


Chapter  IV 

LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS 

The  chances  were  that  not  long  after  a  local  Klan  had  been  establish- 
ed it  would  find  itself  participating  in  the  political  affairs  of  the  com- 
munity in  which  it  was  situated.  The  chapter  would  make  special 
drives  to  procure  as  members  municipal  executives,  city  and  county 
legislators,  court  officials,  and  police  authorities.  Then,  too,  if  the 
chapter  were  strong  enough  to  exercise  the  balance  of  power  in  elec- 
tions, it  would  place  in  public  office  candidates  who  were  Knights  or 
sympathetic  toward  the  philosophy  and  methods  of  the  order.  I  Being 
successful  in  these  endeavors  meant  that  the  chapter  was  able  to  obtain 
local  legislation  favoring  its  program  and,  perhaps  more  important,  to 
secure  its  activities  from  interference  from  the  law.  Illustrative  of  the 
latter,  sheriffs  who  were  members  of,  or  on  friendly  terms  with,  the 
secret  fraternity  could  appoint  deputies  until  every  Knight  in  a  partic- 
ular county  was  commissioned  to  preserve  the  peace;  judges  and  pro- 
secuting attorneys  who  were  Klansmen  or  pro-Klan  could  be  of  service 
if  the  chapter  were  brought  to  trial  for  acts  of  terrorism. 

The  participation  of  the  Klan  in  state  politics  and  in  Congressional 
and  presidential  elections  received  an  immense  amount  of  coverage 
in  the  newspapers  and  magazines  of  the  nation.  Quite  the  contrary 
was  true  of  the  participation  of  the  order  in  local  politics.  For  one 
thing,  such  activity  was  less  newsworthy.  Also,  it  was  more  difficult 
to  ascertain  the  facts  of  the  case.  The  reason  is  twofold.  First,  leaders 
of  the  local  Klans  were  tight-lipped  about  the  activity  of  their  organi- 
zation in  the  political  affairs  of  the  community.  They  were  perhaps 
afraid  of  saying  a  bit  too  much,  thereby  antagonizing  superiors  ready 
with  swift  and  heavy  punishment,  higher-ups  who,  by  the  way,  every 
now  and  then  permitted  themselves  to  recite  something  quite  revealing 
about  the  Klan's  role  in  politics  on  the  state  and  national  levels.  Sec- 
ond, although  frequently  easy  to  guess,  it  was  impossible  to  prove 
which  chapters  had  succeeded  in  placing  Knights  in  public  office, 
since  the  Klan,  as  a  secret  fraternity,  never  made  known  its  member- 
ship lists. 

The  sole  reason  given  by  the  Invisible  Empire  for  its  entering  into 
local  politics  was  a  desire  to  "clean  up"  the  municipality  or  county. 

38 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  39 

In  June,  1923,  the  two  leading  magazines  of  the  order,  The  Dawn  and 
The  Imperial  Night-Hawk,  ran  the  very  same  article  emphasizing  that 
one  of  the  great  principles  for  which  the  Klan  stood  and  fought  was 
"CLEAN  municipal  government!"  Just  a  month  later  a  Great  Titan 
of  the  Realm  of  Texas  happily  announced  that  in  municipalities  which 
in  the  past  had  been  "honey-combed  with  administrative  graft  .  .  . 
slowly  but  surely  the  campaign  of  the  Klan  for  good  government  has 
made  itself  felt."  The  battle,  however,  was  still  to  be  waged.  The 
following  year  a  pamphlet  of  the  order  affirmed  that  in  'local  affairs" 
even  more  than  ever  the  Klan  demanded:  "(1)  law  enforcement;  (2) 
stopping  private  graft  and  the  spoils  system;  (3)  healthful  environ- 
ments in  public  schools;  (4)  clean  moral  surroundings  for  children." 

A  satisfactory  method  of  studying  the  participation  of  the  southern 
wing  of  the  Klan  in  local  politics  is  to  discuss  separately  each  state 
involved.  Restricting  the  survey  to  the  eleven  states  that  comprised 
the  Confederacy  plus  two  of  the  border  slave  states  where  the  southern 
political  tradition  has  remained  strong,  Maryland  and  Kentucky,  it 
appears  logical  to  treat  each  in  the  general  direction  of  from  the  Upper 
South  to  the  Deep  South,  and  from  the  Atlantic  coast  westward  to  the 
Mississippi  River  and  beyond. 

\The  most  un-American  state  in  Dixie,  as  measured  by  the  Klan 
standard,  was  Maryland.  There  were  some  chapters  of  the  secret 
order  in  the  commonwealth,  but  they  were  so  scattered  and  their 
strength  so  negligible  that  most  Marylanders  did  not  take  them  serious- 
ly. |  As  a  result,  instances  of  newspaper  coverage  of  the  fraternity's 
participation  in  local  politics  were  few  and  far  between.  Only  one 
journalistic  account  need  be  brought  forward  for  an  indication  of  the 
way  the  local  Klans  of  Maryland  would  attempt  to  interfere  with  the 
execution  of  the  duties  of  a  duly  elected  officeholder.  On  July  26, 
1924,  the  chapter  in  Myersville,  a  village  fifteen  miles  from  Frederick, 
sent  a  threatening  message  to  Judge  A.  T.  Brust,  stating  that  "some- 
thing real"  would  happen  if  he  showed  publicly  any  sympathy  toward 
the  victim  of  a  tar  and  feather  episode,  and  if  he  did  not  release  the 
persons  held  as  members  of  the  mob  committing  the  outrage.  Whether 
"something  real"  meant  political  retribution  against  Brust  is  open  to 
question. 

In  the  neighboring  state  of  Virginia  the  order  was  more  successful 
in  winning  the  friendship  and  co-operation  of  the  servants  of  local 
government.  Chief  Charles  A.  Sherry  of  the  Richmond  police  depart- 
ment declared  that  he  had  never  heard  more  patriotic  speeches  in  his 
city  than  those  delivered  by  Imperial  Wizard  Simmons.    In  1924,  in 


40  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Graham,  in  the  southwestern  part  of  Virginia,  the  entire  police  force 
actually  marched  in  a  Klan  parade  on  Washington's  birthday;  the 
following  year,  in  Danville,  near  the  North  Carolina  border,  mounted 
policemen  led  a  public  Klan  procession.  Such  action  on  the  part  of 
the  constabulary  of  the  Old  Dominion  might  be  understood  if  one  takes 
into  consideration  that  a  high  crime  rate  among  certain  groups  of  the 
economically  and  socially  depressed  colored  population  made  the  police 
sympathetic  toward  the  anti-Negro  views  of  the  Klan.  f 

One  Virginia  policeman  who  was  charged  with  and  denied  belonging 
to  the  Klan  was  Chief  Charles  Barney  Borland  of  Norfolk.  The  affair 
soon  became  a  cause  celebre.  In  the  June  10, 1921,  issue  of  the  Weekly 
News  Letter,  an  official  confidential  publication  sent  out  by  the  Pro- 
pagation Department  headed  by  Imperial  Kleagle  Clarke,  there  ap- 
peared a  communication  from  the  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  Norfolk  Klan 
stating  that  Borland  had  been  enlisted  in  the  ranks  of  his  chapter. 
Included  in  the  Exalted  Cyclops'  extremely  colorful  picture  of  Bor- 
land's initiation  into  Knighthood  was  a  description  of  the  police  of- 
ficial's thanking  300  fellow  Klansmen  after  they  rose  to  pledge  their 
support  in  the  enforcement  of  the  law  in  the  city.  To  all  this  the  Chief 
of  Police  offered  a  vigorous  denial,  replying  that  his  one  and  only  ex- 
perience with  the  Klan  was  giving  permission  to  the  order  to  hold 
a  public  mass  meeting  in  the  Armory  Hall,  which  he  did  deign  to 
attend. 

In  nearby  Newport  News  a  similar  incident  excited  great  public 
interest.  This  time,  however,  more  than  a  half  dozen  city  officials, 
both  elected  and  appointed,  were  involved.  In  the  Weekly  News  Let- 
ter, dated  May  20,  1921,  a  Kleagle  reported  that  in  Newport  News 
"we  have  the  chief  of  police,  the  commonwealth  attorney,  the  post- 
master, the  police  court  judge,  members  of  the  city  council.  .  .  ."  Chief 
of  Police  Campbell  and  the  other  civil  authorities  designated  by  the 
Kleagle  promptly  denied  that  they  were  or  ever  had  been  members 
of  the  Klan. 

What  of  the  secret  order  in  local  elections  in  Virginia?  In  the 
August,  1921,  open  primary  in  Richmond  the  candidate  of  the  Demo- 
cratic party  for  Commissioner  of  Revenue  was  John  E.  Rose,  Jr.  The 
interesting  aspect  is  that  Rose,  a  member  of  the  City  Council,  had 
openly  boasted  of  membership  in  the  Klan.  Civil  servants  of  Richmond 
who  were  Knights  were  credited  with  having  swung  the  victory  in  the 
primary  to  Rose;  these  were  one-third  of  the  aldermen,  several  mem- 
bers of  the  Common  Council,  a  score  of  firemen,  and  about  twenty-five 
policemen. 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  41 

In  Staunton,  the  birthplace  of  Woodrow  Wilson,  the  local  Klan  held 
on  July  7,  1924,  the  type  of  parade  for  which  the  secret  fraternity  had 
become  famous.  The  reason  was  to  celebrate  the  outcome  of  a  recent 
municipal  election.  Of  the  candidates  sponsored  by  the  chapter  for 
public  office  in  Staunton,  fully  80  per  cent  had  been  elected.  A  statistic 
such  as  this  raises  the  question  of  whether  these  candidates  would 
have  been  elected  without  Klan  support.  One  could  answer  that 
seekers  of  public  office  who  were  approved  and  aided  by  the  Invisible 
Empire  might  very  well  have  been  popular  enough  to  gather  on  their 
own  the  votes  necessary  to  insure  their  success;  and  if  the  fraternity 
desired  to  make  an  election  a  referendum  on  the  Klan  issue,  it  would 
find  that  it  could  not  obtain  one,  because  in  an  election  there  is  more 
than  one  issue,  although  this  is  admittedly  not  so  usually  the  case  on 
the  local  level  as  on  the  state  or  national. 

R.  Walton  Moore,  one  of  the  most  respected  members  of  the  House 
of  Representatives  since  his  entering  that  body  in  1919,  and  H.  Earlton 
Hanes,  a  lawyer  who  had  served  in  the  House  of  Delegates  from  Fair- 
fax County  for  two  terms,  contended  for  the  nomination  for  Congress 
from  the  Eighth  District  of  Virginia  in  the  Democratic  primary  of 
August,  1928.1  Moore  announced  that  he  was  backing  for  the  presi- 
dency that  year  Alfred  E.  Smith,  while  Hanes  remained  mum  on  the 
subject.  Since  Smith  was  the  enemy  of  every  Knight,  it  is  no  wonder 
that  Hanes  promptly  gained  the  support  of  the  secret  fraternity  within 
the  Eighth  District,  which  in  the  words  of  one  competent  political 
reporter  was  "rather  badly  infested  with  Klansmen."  Notwithstand- 
ing the  support  Hanes  received  from  the  Klan,  Moore's  distinguished 
political  record  got  him  the  Democratic  nomination,  and  he  went 
on  to  victory  that  November  over  his  Republican  opponent. 

Over  the  Appalachians  in  Kentucky  the  Klan  was  far  less  important 
in  local  politics  than  it  was  in  Virginia.  In  the  Blue  Grass  State  the 
secret  order  was  unable  to  gain  the  confidence  of  the  judiciary.  Cir- 
cuit Judge  Carl  Henderson  in  his  charge  to  the  grand  jury  in  opening 
the  1921  fall  term  of  the  Hopkins  County  Court  at  Madisonville  asked 
for  a  complete  probing  of  the  activities  of  the  Klan  in  the  area;  Judge 
A.  T.  W.  Manning  in  Circuit  Court  in  London,  Laurel  County,  on 
June  1,  1924,  delivered  a  scathing  rebuke  to  the  fraternity,  and  then 
promptly  excused  from  jury  duty  two  men  who  acknowledged  mem- 
bership in  it;  in  his  charge  to  the  grand  jury  at  the  opening  of  Circuit 
Court  in  Somerset,  Pulaski  County,  in  the  fall  of  1924,  Judge  H.  C. 
Kennedy  condemned  the  Klan,  saying  that  there  was  no  room  in  the 
county  for  such  an  organization. 


42  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

So  too  did  various  civil  executives  criticize  the  Invisible  Empire. 
For  example,  following  announcements  in  the  August,  1921,  issues  of 
the  local  newspapers  advertising  for  recruits  for  the  Klan,  Mayor 
George  W.  Smith  of  Louisville  made  a  statement  condemning  the  order 
and  asserting  that  he  would  use  "every  lawful  means  to  prevent  and 
suppress  its  growth  in  our  cornmunity."  The  Board  of  Public  Safety, 
acting  in  accord  with  the  mayor,  refused  the  fraternity  permission  to 
hold  a  meeting  in  the  city.2 

However,  this  was  not  the  last  that  Louisville  heard  of  the  Invisible 
Empire.  In  the  municipal  election  of  1925  the  Democratic  party  was 
forced  to  switch  the  head  of  its  ticket  as  a  result  of  the  Republican 
Campaign  Committee's  offering  the  Democratic  mayoralty  candidate, 
William  T.  Baker,  $1,000  if  he  could  prove  that  he  was  not,  nor  ever 
had  been  a  member  of  the  Klan.  Two  days  before  opening  of  the 
polls,  Baker  admitted  he  had  been  a  Knight  at  one  time,  and  withdrew 
from  the  race.  Joseph  T.  O'Neil,  former  Judge  of  the  State  Court  of 
Appeals,  was  selected  in  his  place.  In  the  extremely  close  election 
contest  O'Neil  lost  out  to  his  Republican  opponent,  Arthur  T.  Will. 
The  backers  of  Will  viewed  the  victory  as  stemming  from  the  rift  in 
the  Democratic  ranks. 

The  Paducah  municipal  election  of  1923  should  be  noted.  Wynn 
Tully,  the  Democratic  candidate  for  mayor,  had  taken  a  leading  part 
in  the  move  to  prevent  a  Klan  speaker's  being  given  a  permit  to  lecture 
in  the  city.  After  hailing  Tully  for  his  action,  the  Paducah  News  Demo- 
crat forecast  his  election,  since  the  Klan  in  a  scolding  campaign  against 
the  Democratic  mayoralty  candidate  had  "thrown  many  Republican 
and  Independent  votes  to  him."  Tully  was  the  only  man  on  his  ticket 
who  was  not  elected.  A  spokesman  for  the  Invisible  Empire  declared 
that  "the  fact  that  all  other  candidates  on  Mr.  Tully 's  ticket  were 
elected,  shows  conclusively  that  his  act  in  aiding  the  faction  that 
attempted  to  stop  the  Klan  speaker  brought  about  his  downfall." 

In  Tennessee  the  influence  of  the  Klan  on  the  local  political  scene 
was  obvious  and  direct.  Speaking  for  the  Knoxville  chapter  of  the 
order,  in  April,  1922,  C.  Lewis  Fowler  declared  that  it  was  in  the  city 
hall  and  on  the  police  force.  He  said  further  that  the  local  chapter, 
as  a  powerful  political  force,  was  going  to  make  certain  that  the 
Negroes  of  Knoxville  were  never  given  the  chance  to  hold  public 
office. 

Although  the  picture  of  the  strength  of  the  local  Klan  in  Knoxville 
as  given  by  Fowler  cannot  be  taken  as  fully  true  because  of  the  ax 
that  'the  Knight  obviously  had  to  grind,  descriptions  of  the  weight  of 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  43 

the  order  in  two  other  cities  of  Tennessee,  Johnson  City  and  Chat- 
tanooga, can  be  more  readily  accepted,  since  they  are  related  by  men 
who  had  left  the  Invisible  Empire  after  having  been  most  active  in  it. 
Ex-Kleagle  Henry  Peck  Fry  told  of  "a  man  who  stood  very  high"  in 
the  local  Klan  in  Johnson  City  during  the  early  1920's  who,  after  first 
having  talked  about  holding  a  parade  of  hooded  and  robed  Knights, 
and  then  having  been  reminded  of  the  provisions  of  the  Code  of  Ten- 
nessee against  wearing  of  masks  in  public,  replied  that  this  made  no 
difference  since  the  Klan  controlled  the  politics  of  Johnson  City.  "We 
will  parade  anyhow,"  he  concluded.  "Nobody  will  dare  stop  us." 
Stetson  Kennedy,  who  wrote  widely-acclaimed  exposes  of  the  Klan 
of  the  1930's  and  1940's,  was  once  told  by  ex-Knight  J.  B.  Stoner  that 
"back  in  1924  the  Klan  was  extremely  strong  in  Chattanooga  and  at 
that  time  elected  city  judge  McGoy,  sheriff  John  Tate,  and  others."* 
The  1923  municipal  election  in  Memphis  makes  a  good  case  study 
for  one  interested  in  the  participation  of  the  southern  wing  of  the 
Klan  in  local  politics.  The  Memphis  chapter  of  the  order  had  been 
very  active  in  the  past,*  and  in  the  fall  of  that  year  was  busily  urging 
every  Knight  in  the  city  to  vote  the  ticket  which  it  as  a  body  had  en- 
dorsed. For  every  office  —  from  mayor  to  alderman  —  the  local  Klan 
had  tapped  a  candidate.  On  November  1,  just  one  week  before  the 
election  was  to  take  place,  a  crowd  of  Knights  marched  to  the  court 
house,  entered  the  office  of  John  Brown,  the  election  commissioner, 
and  insisted  that  additional  officials  be  appointed  to  serve  at  the  polls 
in  order  to  "preserve  some  semblance  of  fairness"  in  the  forthcoming 
political  contest.  On  November  9,  when  all  the  returns  were  in, 
Mayor  Rowlett  Paine  and  his  entire  administration  but  one  (a  city 
judge),  running  on  the  anti-Klan  platform,  had  been  re-elected.  The 
sole  incumbent  who  lost  the  race  did  so  to  the  Klan-supported  Clifford 
Davis.  Davis  owed  his  victory  very  clearly  to  the  fact  that  the  anti- 
Klan  vote  was  badly  split  for  city  judge,  three  factions  dividing  the 
opposition.  The  New  York  Times  described  this  decisive  defeat  of 
the  order  in  the  Memphis  election  as  "the  biggest  black  eye  the 
Klan  has  yet  received  in  Southern  territory  east  of  the  Mississippi." 
Further,  the  newspaper  said  that  everywhere  in  Tennessee  the  Klan 
was  losing  its  influence  in  local  politics,  and  predicted  that  although 
the  order  would  poll  a  considerable  vote  in  the  1924  elections,  it  would 
not  be  a  controlling  factor. 

(  The  prediction  of  the  New  York  Times  came  true.  Perhaps  the 
outstanding  feature  of  the  local  elections  of  1924  in  Tennessee  was  the 
poor  showing  made  by  the  Invisible  Empire,  j  For  example,  in  Shelby 


44  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

County,  of  which  Memphis  is  the  governmental  seat,  the  candidates 
whom  the  Klan  backed  did  not  even  carry  the  rural  districts,  which 
had  almost  been  conceded  to  them,  and  they  failed  to  make  inroads 
on  the  control  of  the  county  court. 

Eastward,  in  the  Carolinas,  the  Klan  was  able  to  make  little  headway 
in  local  political  affairs.  However,  in  North  Carolina  there  was  a 
mayor  or  two  who  was  something  more  than  friendly  to  the  order  and 
its  members.  When  in  the  fall  of  1924  the  chapter  in  Ahoskie,  a  very 
small  town  in  the  coastal  region,  planned  to  stage  a  public  demonstra- 
tion, Mayor  L.  C.  Williams  "promptly"  gave  his  assent  to  a  parade  and 
other  exercises  chosen  for  the  occasion.6  In  Goldsboro,  Mayor  Edgai 
H.  Bain  once  spoke  of  the  order  in  terms  as  glowing  as  those  a  Kleagle 
might  have  used  in  recruiting  members.  The  Mayor's  remarks  were 
the  result  of  a  report  that  the  local  Klan  in  Goldsboro  was  considering 
giving  two  wealthy  Negroes  of  the  city  who  had  left  for  New  York  in 
Pullman  berths  an  unwelcome  reception  upon  their  return  for  having 
dared  to  ride  in  such  a  conveyance.  Dubbing  the  story  "just  a  rumor 
circulated  and  accepted  by  outside  newspapers,"  Mayor  Bain  went 
on  to  say  that  the  secret  fraternity  stood  "for  fairness  to  all  and  above 
all  things  upholding  of  the  law." 

Available  records  pertaining  to  the  local  Klan  in  Raleigh,  the  capital 
and  one  of  the  largest  cities  of  the  Tar  Heel  State,  point  to  the  chapter's 
having  on  its  membership  list  civil  authorities,  and  attempting  to  put 
into  office  men  friendly  to  its  philosophy.  During  the  hearings  of  a 
dramatic  legal  case  of  September,  1924,  having  to  do  with  embezzle- 
ment from  one  of  the  city's  most  prominent  stores,  City  Detective 
Joe  Wiggins  was  forced  to  admit  that  he  was  a  member  of  the  In- 
visible Empire.  About  this  time  the  local  Klan  in  Raleigh  was  con- 
ducting a  campaign  to  "clean  up"  the  city.  One  of  Raleigh's  leading 
anti-Klansmen,  the  distinguished  ex-Secretary  of  the  Navy  Josephus 
Daniels,  away  on  vacation,  was  kept  informed  of  the  chapter's  activi- 
ties by  his  son  Jonathan.  The  young  Daniels  wrote  his  father  that  in 
order  to  gain  its  objectives,  "the  Klan  demanded  the  resignation  of 
[Chief  of  Police  A.  E.]  Glenn  and  dictated  the  selection  of  J.  Winder 
Bryan.  They  are  now  planning  to  demonstrate  beyond  a  shadow  of 
a  doubt  that  the  change  is  a  fine  one  and  that  it  has  long  been  needed."" 
That  Glenn  was  replaced  by  Bryan  in  1924  can  be  proved;  that  the 
local  Klan  of  Raleigh  was  responsible  for  the  turnover  cannot  be. 

In  South  Carolina  the  Klan  was  close  to  impotence.  This  is  inter- 
esting, for  of  all  the  states  of  the  Old  South,  South  Carolina  was  the 
most  southern  politically,  the  state  of  nullification  and  secession.  |  In  a 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  45 

two  day  investigation  of  the  commonwealth  made  in  late  1923  by  a 
New  York  Times  correspondent,  few  of  the  score  of  well-informed 
South  Carolinians  with  whom  newspaperman  talked  placed  the  order's 
strength  at  more  than  10,000.  In  two-thirds  of  the  counties  there 
seemed  to  be  no  Klansmen  and  in  the  other  one-third  the  number 
was  insignificant  compared  with  the  total  population. 

The  only  important  instance  in  which  the  issue  of  the  Klan  in  South 
Carolina  local  politics  had  been  raised  was  in  the  1923  Charleston 
municipal  election.  John  P.  Grace,  running  for  re-election  as  mayor, 
charged  toward  the  end  of  his  campaign  that  the  secret  order  was 
behind  the  effort  to  unseat  him.  This  was  accepted  by  competent 
political  observers  to  be  a  last  minute  effort  on  the  part  of  the  incum- 
bent to  rally  the  Catholics  and  Jews  of  the  city  to  his  support.  Grace 
was  badly  defeated  and  the  voters  who  retired  him  to  private  life 
included  some  of  the  most  distinguished  citizens  of  Charleston  of  the 
Catholic  and  Jewish  faiths.  Here  is  one  of  the  very  best  examples  of 
a  politician  using  the  Klan  issue  as  a  "red  herring."  In  this  instance 
the  anti-Klan  charge  fell  short  of  substantiation  and  the  candidate 
failed  to  gather  enough  votes. 

'  Although  the  Klan  reached  the  height  of  its  power  in  the  area  to  the 
west  of  the  lower  Mississippi  River  and  in  the  Middle  West,  the  order 
remained  throughout  the  1920's  a  political  force  in  its  home  state, 
Georgia.  The  Empire  State  of  the  South  was  fairly  dotted  with  chap- 
ters, all  of  which  attempted  to  gain  the  friendship  and  co-operation 
of  the  municipal  and  county  politicos,  and  many  of  which  were  suc- 
cessful in  this  endeavor.  On  June  18,  1921,  there  was  a  public  meeting 
in  Rockmart,  a  sleepy  little  city  in  northwestern  Georgia,  with  the 
principal  speaker  of  the  evening  being  Colonel  J.  Q.  Nolan  of  Atlanta, 
who  talked  on  the  aims  and  operation  of  the  Klan.  What  is  noteworthy 
about  the  meeting  is  that  seated  on  the  platform  with  Nolan  were  J.  A. 
Fambro,  the  mayor  of  Rockmart,  members  of  the  City  Council,  and  two 
Knights  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia. 

In  the  July,  1926,  issue  of  The  Forum  there  appeared  a  captivating 
account  of  the  efforts  of  Julian  Harris,  son  of  the  beloved  author,  Joel 
Chandler  Harris,  and  owner  and  publisher  of  the  Columbus  Enquirer- 
Sun,  to  defy  the  local  Klan  in  Columbus.  The  Forum  article  related 
that  when  Harris  purchased  the  newspaper  in  1921,  there  were  in  the 
city  on  the  Chattahoochee  about  500  Klansmen,  and  the  order  was 
actually  endorsed  by  the  mayor  and  the  chief  of  police,  and  permitted 
the  use  of  the  armory  above  police  headquarters  for  its  meeting  place. 

If  Georgia  was  the  home  state  of  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan, 


46  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Atlanta  was  the  home  city.  A  widely-circulated  southern  Negro  week- 
ly, the  Norfolk  Journal  and  Guide,  reported  in  the  fall  of  1921  that 
it  was  rumored  that  all  members  of  the  city  government  were  members 
of  the  Invisible  Empire.  To  such  a  charge  Imperial  Wizard  Simmons 
had  this  to  say  during  the  Congressional  investigation  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan  in  1921:  In  Atlanta  "after  searching  investigation  by  the  .  .  . 
papers,  it  was  found  that  only  three  officials  in  the  county  belonged 
to  the  klan,  and  a  small  number  of  the  council,  although  many  of  those 
interviewed  said  they  would  like  to  belong  to  the  klan,  as  they  knew 
many  citizens  of  Atlanta  of  the  highest  type  who  were  members."7 

One  official  who  belonged  to  the  secret  fraternity  was  John  A.  Boy- 
kin,  Solicitor-General  of  the  Atlanta  Judicial  Circuit.  In  a  letter  to 
Simmons  written  on  October  10,  1919,  congratulating  him  on  the 
showing  made  by  the  Klan  in  a  parade  in  Atlanta  that  day,  Boykin 
concluded,  "Though  it  is  seldom  my  privilege  to  attend  the  Klan  meet- 
ings, because  of  the  most  pressing  and  grueling  duties,  when  crime  is 
rampant  and  there  is  unrest  throughout  the  world,  I  want  you  and  my 
brother  Klansmen  to  know  that  I  am  with  you  in  spirit."8  Although 
Boykin  never  admitted  that  he  was  a  Knight,  the  internal  evidence  of 
this  communication  ( in  the  complete  letter  the  Solicitor-General  refers 
to  his  "brother  Klansmen"  three  times)  leads  one  to  the  conclusive 
inference  that  he  was  a  member.  The  New  York  World  once,  by  the 
way,  noted  that  in  Atlanta  Boykin's  membership  in  the  Invisible  Empire 
was  taken  for  granted,  and  certain  facts  surrounding  his  election  to  his 
office  were  taken  as  evidence  of  the  political  power  of  the  Klan  in  the 
capital  of  Georgia. 

In  the  Democratic  primary  in  Atlanta  in  1922  the  Klan  became  a 
serious  issue.  Chief  of  Police  Beavers,  seeking  the  nomination  for 
mayor,  issued  a  challenge  to  all  his  opponents,  but  particularly  to 
Councilman  Walter  Sims,  alleged  to  be  a  candidate  put  forward  by 
the  local  Klan,9  to  state  their  positions  on  the  fraternal  organization. 
Beavers  promised  that  if  he  were  elected  mayor  he  would  use  every 
lawful  means  in  his  power  "to  fight  any  improper  influence  the  Klan 
may  seek  to  exert  in  politics,  or  any  hand  it  may  seek  to  take  in  the 
affairs  of  this  city.  ..."  Sims  won  the  nomination  as  the  Democratic 
candidate  for  the  chief  municipal  post  of  Atlanta,  defeating  not  only 
Beavers  but  James  G.  Woodward,  three  times  mayor  of  the  city.  The 
opposition  to  Sims  by  leaders  of  the  Catholic  Church  and  of  the  reform 
elements  of  Atlanta  who  were  against  the  councilman  because  of  his 
public  acts  of  religious  intolerance  failed  to  triumph  over  the  backing 
of  the  Klan  that  he  received. 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  47 

In  the  1924  campaign  for  the  judgeship  of  the  Superior  Court  of 
Fulton  County,  of  which  Atlanta  is  the  county  seat,  candidate  L.  F. 
McClelland  charged  that  his  opponent,  Judge  Gus  H.  Howard,  had 
made  the  Klan,  of  which  Howard  was  an  acknowledged  member,  an 
issue  in  the  race.  Declaring  that  he  himself  was  not  nor  ever  had 
been  a  Knight,  McClelland  felt  sure  that  numbers  of  men,  "100  per 
cent  Americans,"  who  had  joined  the  Klan  as  a  fraternity  would  now 
agree  with  him  that  the  order's  "recent  active  entry  into  the  political 
arena  removes  it  from  the  realms  of  fraternal  organization  to  that  of  a 
political  party."  Howard  won  the  election. 

Considering  the  fact  that  during  the  1920's  the  Klan  in  Alabama 
drew  nationwide  attention  as  a  participant  in  state  politics,  it  is  inter- 
esting that  there  were  remarkably  few  newspaper  accounts  of  the 
activity  of  the  order  on  the  local  level  in  the  Gulf  state.  Efforts  of  a 
political  nature  were  indeed  expended  on  this  level;  the  newspapermen 
were  perhaps  so  engrossed  in  writing  up  an  account  of  the  Klan  in 
state  politics  that  they  did  not  have  sufficient  time  to  delve  into  activi- 
ty on  the  local  scene,  a  story  considered  to  be  less  newsworthy.  Be 
that  as  it  may,  there  is  one  newspaper  article  in  particular,  a  treatment 
of  the  1927  mayoralty  election  in  Montgomery,  that  should  be  turned 
to.  In  this  contest  in  the  capital  of  Alabama,  William  A.  Gunter,  the 
incumbent,  was  elected  to  the  post  over  J.  Johnson  Moore,  a  candi- 
date nominated  through  Klan  influence.  During  the  last  days  of  the 
race,  James  Esdale,  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Alabama,  traveled 
to  Montgomery  from  Birmingham,  where  he  practiced  law,  to  aid  the 
Klan-supported  office  seeker.  At  political  meetings  held  throughout 
the  city  by  both  factions  numerous  charges  and  counter-charges  were 
indulged  in.  At  the  conclusion  of  his  campaign,  Gunter  asked  the 
citizens  of  Montgomery  point-blank  whether  it  was  their  wish  to  be 
governed  by  "the  invisible  empire  or  by  a  government  of,  for  and  by 
the  people."    The  vote  was  more  than  two  to  one  in  Gunter's  favor. 

In  Florida  practically  all  Klan  activity  in  local  politics  was  channeled 
into  preventing  the  Negroes  from  exercising  the  franchise.  In  a  host 
of  towns  and  cities  in  that  state  chapters  of  the  order  regularly  staged 
just  before  elections  extensively  advertised  parades,  the  object  of  which 
was  to  intimidate  the  colored  population  into  staying  away  from  the 
polls.  In  Jacksonville,  on  the  night  of  October  30,  1920,  for  example, 
one  such  public  spectacle  took  place;  about  500  hooded  and  robed 
Knights  silently  marched  through  the  streets,  despite  urgent  requests 
from  national  Negro  organizations  to  the  local  police  department  and 
city  officials  that  the  parade  be  prohibited. 


48  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Pertinent  to  the  story  of  the  Klan  in  Florida  attempting  to  prevent 
the  Negroes  from  participating  in  elections  is  an  incident  that  occurred 
in  Ocoee,  a  hamlet  in  Orange  County.  Three  weeks  prior  to  the 
November,  1920,  elections,  the  local  Klan  sent  word  to  the  Negroes 
of  Orange  County  that  they  would  not  be  allowed  to  vote,  and  that  if 
any  member  of  the  colored  community  attempted  to  cast  a  ballot, 
trouble  would  certainly  ensue.  Mose  Norman,  of  Ocoee,  refusing  to 
be  deterred  by  such  threats,  went  to  the  polls,  where  he  was  overpow- 
ered, severely  beaten,  and  ordered  to  go  home.  This  episode  incited 
a  white  mob  to  storm  through  the  colored  section  of  Ocoee,  where  it 
participated  in  an  orgy  of  incendiarism,  resulting  in  the  loss  of  twenty 
houses,  two  churches,  a  school  building,  a  lodge-hall,  and  dozens  of 
Negro  lives. 

Three  years  later,  in  Miami,  a  few  days  before  the  municipal  election 
of  April,  1923,  a  broadside  was  distributed  in  the  Negro  section  of  that 
city.    It  read  as  follows: 

"Beware! 

Negro  Citizens,  as  long  as  you  keep 
your  place,  we  will  protect  you, 

But 
Beware!     The  Ku-Klux-Klan 

is  Again  Alive! 
and  every  negro  who  approaches 
a  polling  place  next  Tuesday 
will  be 

A  MARKED  MAN 

This  is  a  white  man's  country,  boys, 
so  save  your  own  life  next  Tuesday 
Ku-Klux-Klan, 
Miami  Chapter 
P.  S.  Don't  think  for  a  minute  that 
we  don't  know  you.    A  white  man 
will  be  at  every  polling  place  with 
his  book,    don't  get  in  that  book." 

What  must  not  be  overlooked  is  that  this  handbill  could  just  as 
easily  have  been  distributed  by  individuals  not  belonging  to  the  Klan, 
who  took  advantage  of  the  threat  which  the  secret  fraternity  afforded 
to  intimidate  Negroes  into  staying  away  from  the  polls. 

In  Mississippi  the  Klan  was  negligible  as  a  factor  in  local  politics. 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  49 

However,  throughout  the  1920's  Knights  in  Mississippi  were  full  of 
hope  that  someday  individual  chapters  in  the  state  would  employ 
political  activity  to  carry  out  the  order's  program  as  successfully  as 
they  made  use  of  Klannishness,  charitable  enterprises,  and  terrorism. 
A  typical  expression  of  this  aspiration  of  the  local  Klans  of  Mississippi 
was  penned  by  the  Exalted  Cyclops  of  Vicksburg  in  the  May  13,  1921, 
issue  of  the  Weekly  News  Letter:  "The  reason  why  everybody  here 
has  taken  so  keenly  to  the  Klan  is  due  to  the  fact  that  years  ago  the 
Jews  and  Roman  Catholics  formed  a  liaison  with  the  liquor  interests 
and  have  had  politics  in  this  city  throttled,  and  it  is  our  intention  to 
whip  and  rout  them  at  the  polls  when  the  next  election  comes  around 
in  1922.  We  intend  to  put  these  un-American  elements  out  of  office 
precisely  as  other  communities  have  done." 

I  Across  the  Mississippi  River  in  Arkansas  the  record  of  the  Invisible 
Empire's  participation  in  local  politics  was  a  long  and  full  one.  (Elec- 
tion clashes  between  Klan  and  anti-Klan  factions  were  bitter,  there 
being  no  better  example  than  the  Little  Rock  municipal  election  of 
November,  1924.  During  this  political  race  a  report  was  current 
throughout  the  city  that  the  local  Klan  had  sent  out  "instructions"  to 
its  members  that  they  support  County  Judge  Charles  E.  Moyer  for 
mayor.  R.  A.  Cook,  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  Klan  in  Little  Rock,  em- 
phatically denied  any  such  action  on  the  part  of  his  organization,  al- 
though he  refused  to  discuss  whether  the  local  Klan  as  a  body  had 
endorsed  Judge  Moyer.  In  less  than  two  weeks  Cook  was  to  make 
a  statement  vastly  more  interesting  than  this  one.  He  declared  that 
Mayor  Benjamin  Dunton  Brickhouse,  seeking  re-election,  displayed 
"rank  ingratitude"  in  the  attacks  he  made  upon  his  opponent  Moyer, 
J.  A.  Comer,  ex-Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  Klan  in  Little  Rock  and  now 
Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Arkansas,  and  the  Invisible  Empire  as 
a  whole.  In  the  past,  Cook  explained,  Brickhouse  had  "sought  and 
accepted  the  friendship  of  the  local  Klan  and  Exalted  Cyclops  Comer," 
but  in  this,  his  race  for  a  fourth  term,  "he  failed  to  obtain  the  backing 
of  the  Klan  so  he  is  very  angry  about  it." 

Weeks  before  the  Little  Rock  municipal  election  Cook,  speaking  for 
his  chapter,  charged  that  during  the  Democratic  primary  of  August, 
1924,  fraud  was  practiced  in  counting  the  votes  cast  in  various  precincts 
of  Pulaski  County,  the  governmental  unit  in  which  Little  Rock  is 
located.  At  a  meeting  of  the  local  Klan,  held  on  August  21,  these 
details  were  presented:  Klansmen  who  were  members  of  the  canvass- 
ing committee  named  to  check  the  ballots  cast  in  the  primary  dis- 
covered errors  in  the  counting  of  the  votes  that  were  apparently 


50  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

deliberately  made.  Inasmuch  as  many  of  the  errors  adversely  af- 
fected Klansmen  who  were  candidates,  especially  for  membership 
on  the  Democratic  County  Central  Committee,  the  fraud  must  have 
been  aimed  at  the  secret  order. 

On  August  26,  the  Pulaski  County  Democratic  convention  answered 
the  charge  of  fraud.  The  meeting,  packed  with  anti-Klan  delegates 
who  listened  attentively  to  many  verbal  lashings  of  the  secret  frater- 
nity, was  the  first  at  which  a  direct  attack  was  ever  made  by  the 
Democratic  party  in  the  county  against  the  Klan.  Scathing  denuncia- 
tions of  the  order  were  made  by  the  chairman  of  the  convention,  Fred 
A.  Isgrig,  and  the  secretary  of  the  County  Central  Committee,  Frank 
H.  Dodge.10  These  were  both  received  with  applause.  Isgrig  traced 
the  history  of  the  Little  Rock  Klan  in  politics,  describing  the  fight  it 
had  made  to  obtain  control  of  the  school  board,  the  county  offices, 
and  the  membership  of  the  state  legislature  alloted  to  the  district. 
Dodge  declared  that  no  fraud  was  practiced  in  the  primary,  that  the 
mistakes  made  in  counting  were  unintentional  errors  resulting  from 
the  use  of  the  long  ballot.  He  pointed  out  further  that  the  election 
judges  and  clerks  were  chosen  with  the  assistance  of  Klansmen,  in- 
cluding C.  P.  Newton,  the  Democratic  candidate  for  county  judge. 

Before  adjourning,  the  convention  adopted  a  resolution,  the  con- 
clusion of  which  stated:  "Be  it ...  resolved  that  we  call  upon  the 
citizens  not  only  of  this  county  but  upon  all  the  counties  of  the 
state  of  Arkansas,  to  join  with  us  in  casting  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  out  of 
the  Democratic  party  and  forcing  it  to  come  out  in  the  open,  under 
its  own  colors  as  a  Ku  Klux  Klan  party,  instead  of  seeking  to  hide 
its  identity  within  the  folds  of  the  Democratic  party." 

On  September  6th  the  Pulaski  County  Democratic  Central  Committee 
met  to  select  its  officers  for  the  coming  two  years.  On  the  Central 
Committee  were  both  Klan  and  anti-Klan  factions  striving  to  capture 
the  chairmanship  and  secretaryship.  "With  the  anti-Klan  membership 
at  about  190  and  the  Klan  membership  at  approximately  75,  it  is  not 
surprising  that  the  personnel  and  philosophy  of  the  newly-elected  Cen- 
tral Committee  was  quite  hostile  to  the  secret  fraternity's  participation 
in  the  local  politics  of  Pulaski  County. 

About  this  time,  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  state,  another  battle  was 
being  waged  by  Klan  and  anti-Klan  forces  within  the  Democratic 
party.  When  the  St.  Francis  County  Democratic  Central  Committee 
convened  on  August  15  to  canvass  the  returns  of  the  recently  held 
primary,  notice  of  protest  was  filed  by  three  of  the  defeated  candidates. 
The  petitioners  were  all  backed  by  the  local  Klan  and  each  alleged 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  51 

irregularities  in  counting;  they  were  J.  G.  Sanders,  W.  J.  Lanier,  and 
C.  R.  Hine,  candidates  for  sheriff,  county  judge,  and  county  treasurer, 
respectively.  The  contested  cases  came  to  an  end  on  October  11,  when 
Circuit  Judge  John  W.  Wade  decided  against  the  petitioners  after  a 
trial  lasting  nine  days  and  including  the  examination  of  several  hundred 
witnesses.  Each  of  the  three  Klan-supported  candidates,  as  a  matter  of 
fact,  finished  the  hearings  with  a  much  smaller  vote  than  he  had  when 
he  had  started. 

During  the  trial  of  the  three  petitioners  some  highly  interesting  de- 
tails of  Klan  politicking  in  St.  Francis  County  were  brought  to  light. 
It  was  proved,  for  example,  that  the  local  chapter  of  the  order  had 
held  its  own  elimination  contests  for  Klan-endorsed  nominees  for  the 
various  offices  in  the  Democratic  primary,  with  all  the  contestants 
having  been  required  to  sign  a  pledge  to  support  in  the  primary  those 
of  their  number  who  won  the  elimination  contests.  It  was  shown, 
too,  that  the  local  Klan  had  undertaken  the  payment  of  poll  taxes  of 
individuals  known  to  be  in  favor  of  the  same  candidates  it  backed. 

The  Klan,  however,  scored  at  least  one  political  victory  in  Arkansas 
in  1924.  In  the  Democratic  primary  of  August  for  nomination  for 
Congress  from  the  Third  District,  J.  N.  Tillman  decisively  defeated 
E.  G.  Mitchell,  who  ran  on  an  anti-Klan  platform.  Of  the  nine  counties 
in  the  Third  District,  the  only  one  Mitchell  carried  was  Searcy,  where 
for  some  time  there  had  been  a  strong  anti-Klan  movement. 

I  In  Louisiana  the  Invisible  Empire  seems  to  have  expended  so  much 
energy  in  endeavoring  to  regulate  the  morals  of  the  inhabitants  of  the 
commonwealth  that  it  had  too  little  left  to  attempt  to  dominate  munici- 
pal and  county  governments.  Nevertheless,  two  examples  of  Klan 
activity  in  local  politics  in  widely  separated  parts  of  the  state  should 
be  noted,  for  they  are  as  interesting  as  they  are  instructive.  The  local 
chapter  in  New  Orleans,  a  predominantly  Catholic  city  exceedingly 
hostile  to  the  Klan,  found  it  expedient  in  September,  1921,  to  close 
temporarily  its  office  after  Mayor  Andrew  J.  McShane  and  Commis- 
sioner Stanley  Raye  condemned  the  order  as  un-American.  In  Decem- 
ber of  the  following  year,  in  Haynesville,  an  oil  town  far  to  the  north, 
the  mayor  and  each  member  of  the  police  force  received  a  letter  bearing 
the  stamp  of  Klan  No.  63  of  Louisiana  ordering  them  to  resign.  The 
charge:  shielding  bootleggers  and  lawbreakers. 

■  Like  so  much  else  having  to  do  with  Texas,  there  is  only  one  word  to 
describe  the  political  power  of  the  Klan  on  the  local  level  during  the 
192Q's — that  word  is  "big".  To  begin  with,  in  Beaumont,  in  the 
southeast,  not  far  from  the  Louisiana  border,  the  local  Klan  announced 


..""'^"r  Of 


52  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

in  the  spring  of  1922  that  it  would  thereafter  function  as  a  political 
machine.  The  chapter  published  a  statement  proclaiming  its  intention 
to  place  in  office  Knights  or  sympathizers  with  the  order.  Quite  soon 
after  this  was  done  a  Citizens'  League  was  formed  to  thwart  the 
chapter's  declared  ambitions.  From  that  point  on  there  occurred 
rivalry  between  Klan  and  anti-Klan  forces  such  as  a  city  had  seldom 
seen. 

Judge  W.  H.  Davidson  of  the  Fifty-eighth  District  Court  swore  that 
he  was  escorted  to  the  Klan  meeting  place  in  Beaumont  by  Deputy 
Sheriff  George  Wallace,  where  Sheriff  Thomas  Heslip  Garner  was 
waiting  to  tell  him  that  "everybody  wanted  him  in"  and  that  "at  the 
next  meeting  night  he  would  be  made  a  member."  The  judge,  by  the 
way,  was  quick  to  add  that  he  refused  to  consider  membership  in  the 
organization.  Another  jurist  had  a  much  less  pleasant  experience  with 
the  local  Klan;  that  is,  if  it  was  the  order  that  was  at  fault.  Anti-Klan 
City  Judge  J.  A.  Pelt  was  tarred  and  feathered  in  April,  1922,  by  a  hood- 
ed band  of  men.  The  Citizens'  League  charged  the  secret  fraternity 
with  committing  the  act.  The  city  commissioners  offered  $1,000  for 
the  arrest  and  conviction  of  any  member  of  the  mob  responsible  for 
the  outrage,  and  Mayor  B.  A.  Steinhagen  made  known  his  desire  to 
"get  those  cowards  who  hid  behind  masks,  whether  or  not  they  belong 
to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan." 

Steinhagen  said  a  good  many  other  things  to  provoke  the  Knights  of 
Beaumont.  For  example,  he  issued  a  statement  declaring  that  while  the 
City  Commission  did  not  presume  to  dictate  to  those  in  its  employ 
regarding  their  affiliations  with  any  organization,  he  himself  felt  that 
the  membership  of  a  municipal  employee  in  the  Klan  was  inimical  to 
the  public  good.  In  1924  the  order  was  able  to  congratulate  itself  on 
vanquishing  this  great  political  enemy,  Steinhagen.  In  the  munici- 
pal election  of  April  1,  the  mayor  was  defeated  for  re-election  by  J.  A. 
Barnes,  a  young  attorney.  Barnes,  while  not  belonging  to  the  local 
Klan,  had  its  full  endorsement  in  the  campaign. 

If  the  political  power  of  the  Klan  on  the  local  level  in  the  Lone 
Star  State  was  big,  so  too  was  the  consequent  fight  put  up  by  the  oppo- 
nents of  the  Invisible  Empire.  Reference  to  four  separate  communities 
should  suffice  to  illustrate  the  point.  When,  in  September,  1921, 
Mayor  Stanton  Allen  heard  that  the  local  Klan  intended  to  parade 
in  his  town  of  Bartlett,  which  lies  about  ten  miles  north  of  Austin,  he 
hurriedly  issued  a  proclamation  forbidding  it  and  ordered  the  city 
marshall  to  arrest  any  hooded  and  robed  individuals  who  appeared  on 
the  streets.    The  chapter  made  no  effort  to  carry  out  its  announced 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  S3 

purpose  of  marching.  On  March  16,  1922,  District  Judge  John  F. 
Mullaly  in  his  charge  to  the  grand  jury  at  Laredo  ordered  a  complete 
investigation  of  the  Klan  in  that  city.  He  instructed  the  members  of 
the  jury  to  summon  every  city,  county,  and  federal  officer  in  the  area 
and  question  him  as  to  membership  in  the  fraternity,  which  he  criti- 
cized as  "an  unlawful  organization  gotten  up  for  purpose  of  violating 
the  laws  of  the  state."  On  the  very  same  day,  in  Austin,  Judge  James 
R.  Hamilton  in  Criminal  Court  found  Police  Commissioner  J.  D. 
Copeland  in  contempt  of  court  for  refusing  to  answer  questions  re- 
lating to  the  Klan  and  to  his  alleged  membership  in  it — questions  put 
to  him  previously  by  the  Travis  County  grand  jury.  The  court  im- 
posed a  fine  of  $50,  and  ordered  Copeland  to  jail,  where  he  was  to  re- 
main until  he  answered  the  questions.  Asserting  its  belief  that  the 
Klan  should  disband  in  the  "public  interest,"  the  Travis  County 
grand  jury  on  April  14,  1922,  filed  with  Judge  Robinson  in  Criminal 
District  Court  at  Houston  a  report  declaring  that  it  had  initiated  a 
thorough  investigation  of  the  order. 

Regarding  the  establishment  of  the  Klan  in  Dallas  in  the  early 
1920's,  John  William  Rogers,  in  his  history  of  the  city,  writes  that  "It 
was  plain  that  in  local  politics  .  . .  the  hooded  organization  was  mak- 
ing itself  felt."  Such  a  remark  becomes  an  understatement  when  com- 
pared with  any  number  of  others  on  the  political  power  of  the  Klan  in 
the  city  of  Dallas  and  surrounding  Dallas  County  during  this  period: 
"There  the  word  of  the  Klan  officials  is  law."  "They  [Klan  leaders] 
take  in  all  the  policemen,  every  city  or  county  official ..."  "It  is 
claimed  that  every  officer  of  the  city  and  county  of  Dallas  is  a  Klans- 
man ..."  "For  the  next  two  years  [1922-19241  we  lived  in  a  com- 
munity where  every  city  and  county  office  was  held  by  a  member  of 
the  Klan  or  by  a  man  who  had  made  peace  with  it." 

Probably  the  most  serious  threat  to  the  political  activity  of  the 
Klan  in  the  Dallas  area  was  the  Dallas  County  Citizens'  League, 
formed  on  April  15,  1922.  This  organization  adopted  resolutions  de- 
ploring the  existence  of  a  secret  order  that  engaged  in  terrorism. 
It  also  demanded  that  both  holders  and  seekers  of  public  office  de- 
nounce the  Klan.  To  all  candidates  for  office  in  Dallas  County  and  to 
some  candidates  for  the  federal  Congress  an  extensive  questionnaire 
was  sent  by  the  Citizens'  League,  the  first  three  queries  of  which 
were:  "(1)  Are  you  now  a  member  of  the  organization  known  as  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan?;  (2)  Is  it  your  purpose  or  intention  to  affiliate  here- 
after in  any  way  with  the  Ku  Klux  Klan?;  (3)  Are  you  in  sympathy 
with  the  purposes,  practices,  and  objectives  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan?" 


54  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Naturally,  some  of  the  most  interesting  aspects  of  the  political  activity 
of  the  Klan  in  the  city  of  Dallas  could  be  witnessed  only  at  election 
time.  For  a  more  balanced  view  of  the  part  played  by  the  Klan  during 
elections  held  in  Dallas,  as  indeed  in  the  entire  state,  it  would  be  well 
first  to  take  note  of  a  remark  in  1924  by  the  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm 
of  Texas,  Z.  E.  ("Zeke")  Marvin:  "During  the  term  for  which  I  accept- 
ed the  responsibility  of  the  chief  officer  of  the  Klan  in  Texas  it  has  been 
my  earnest  desire  to  keep  the  Klan  out  of  politics,  but  in  each  campaign 
a  candidate  has  thrown  battle  against  the  Klan  forcing  the  Klan  to 
defend  its  principles  there  in  support  of  a  candidate  who  had  not  at- 
tacked the  principles  of  the  Klan  ..."  Following  are  two  examples  of 
local  Klan  politicking  in  the  city  of  Dallas  during  the  1922  Dallas 
County  election.  At  the  height  of  the  campaign  Judge  Barry  Miller, 
an  outspoken  critic  of  the  secret  order,  was  visited  in  his  law  office  by 
three  Knights  ( none  was  a  resident  of  Dallas  so  as  not  to  be  recognized 
by  the  jurist),  the  spokesman  of  whom  said,  "Judge  Miller,  your 
record  in  Texas  is  well  known  and  admired.  You  have  many  friends  in 
the  Klan  who  would  not  want  to  see  you  hurt.  But  we  are  here  to 
warn  you  that  you've  got  to  stop  attacking  the  Klan.  You  mustn't  make 
another  speech  against  it."  At  the  tail  end  of  the  campaign,  on 
August  25,  the  local  Klan  sponsored  an  election  eve  rally  at  the  city 
hall  auditorium.  The  meeting  place  was  soon  filled,  and  the  overflow, 
consisting  of  2,000  people,  went  into  the  street  where  it  gathered 
around  a  truck  drawn  up  in  front  of  the  broad  steps  of  the  building 
to  form  a  speaker's  stand.  More  than  a  half  dozen  Klansmen  or  Klan 
sympathizers  in  the  two  meetings  orated  in  behalf  of  a  host  of  candi- 
dates for  county  office,  practically  all  of  whom,  including  Shelby  Cox, 
who  ran  for  district  attorney,  were  to  be  victorious  at  the  polls. 

On  April  6,  1922,  Mayor  S.  R.  Aldredge  of  Dallas  issued  a  statement 
in  which  he  asked  all  city  employees  who  were  members  of  the  secret 
order  to  resign  from  it  immediately,  and  requested  the  local  chapter  to 
disband.  An  organization  which  brought  discord  to  a  peaceful  city,  as 
the  Klan  had  done,  should  not  be  permitted  to  exist,  the  mayor  argued. 
The  following  year,  in  the  municipal  election  of  April  3,  the  local  Klan 
took  full  revenge  on  Aldredge  for  his  hostility.  The  mayor  with  the 
rest  of  his  ticket  was  defeated  for  re-election  by  an  almost  three-to-one 
vote.  Aldredge's  opponent,  who  spoke  neither  for  nor  against  the  fra- 
ternity, had  received  the  heartiest  endorsement  of  the  local  chapter. 

Beginning  with  the  election  of  1924,  it  should  be  noted,  the  anti-Klan 
forces  in  the  city  of  Dallas  and  in  Dallas  County  began  capturing 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  55 

several  offices,  and  the  political  strength  of  the  order  in  that  area  was 
on  the  way  to  being  broken. 

For  a  time  the  local  Klan  in  Houston  exerted  almost  as  much  in- 
fluence in  municipal  affairs  as  did  the  one  in  Dallas.  In  the  summer  of 
1921  a  newly  recruited  Kleagle  was  told  by  his  immediate  superior,  the 
King  Kleagle,  that  the  Houston  chapter  of  the  order  had  engaged  in 
some  terroristic  activity,  but  felt  quite  secure  from  interference  by  the 
law  because  it  "ran  things  its  own  way,  as  it  had  the  mayor,  the 
police  force  and  practically  all  of  the  politicians."  Houston's  Demo- 
cratic primary  for  1923  supports  the  Kleagle's  assertion.  In  the 
contest  for  the  mayoralty  nomination  were  Judge  Murray  B. 
Jones  and  Oscar  F.  Holcombe,  who  was  seeking  re-election.  The 
former  admittedly  had  support  from  the  local  Klan;  the  latter  was 
understood  to  be  a  member  of  the  order.  In  this  campaign  Klansmen 
must  certainly  have  breathed  easily,  for  the  success  of  either  candidate 
would  prove  politically  advantageous  to  their  chapter.  Also,  it  should 
not  be  forgotten  that  during  this  period  victory  in  a  Democratic  pri- 
mary in  Houston,  as  in  the  rest  of  the  "Solid  South,"  was  tantamount  to 
victory  in  the  general  election  to  follow.  It  was  Holcombe  who  won 
the  nomination. 

The  experiences  of  three  men  who  sought  to  hold  the  office  of 
sheriff  in  different  parts  of  Texas  during  the  1920's  interestingly  illus- 
trate the  efforts  made  by  the  secret  order  to  place  and  keep  in  con- 
stabular  posts  Klansmen  and  Klan  sympathizers.  When  the  sheriff 
of  Collin  County,  in  the  northeastern  part  of  the  state,  was  asked  in  the 
early  1920's  to  join  the  local  Klan,  he  replied  that  he  had  better  not  do 
so  lest  his  oath  as  a  Knight  conflict  with  his  oath  of  office.  He  was  then 
informed  that  if  that  was  all  that  bothered  him,  he  need  not  be  further 
concerned,  since  if  the  chapter  decided  upon  any  illegal  action  his 
fellow  Klansmen  would  make  every  effort  to  safeguard  his  conscience 
by  executing  it  without  his  knowledge.  Soon  after  his  election  in  1920 
as  Sheriff  of  Young  County,  not  far  from  Collin  County,  John  Sayce 
posted  a  notice  inviting  the  Klan  to  co-operate  with  him  in  enforcing 
the  law,  but  stressing  that  he  would  always  be  cognizant  of  his  position 
as  the  duly  constituted  supreme  police  authority.  Mob  violence, 
whether  committed  by  Klansmen  or  anyone  else,  it  was  added,  would 
not  be  tolerated.  The  local  chapter  of  the  order  reacted  negatively  to 
this;  it  was  instrumental  two  years  later  in  Sayce's  defeat  for  re-election 
by  a  four-to-one  vote.  In  the  1922  Democratic  primary  in  Travis 
County,  of  which  Austin  is  the  governmental  seat,  Charles  Hamly  made 
a  bid  for  the  nomination  for  sheriff  on  a  vigorous  anti-Klan  platform. 


56  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

It  was  his  contention  that  a  sheriff,  by  the  very  nature  of  his  position, 
must  oppose  the  secret  order,  since  it  sought  to  take  the  law  into  its 
own  hands.  Hamly's  chief  opponent  for  the  nomination  rejected 
completely  the  viewpoint  that  a  police  official  must  be  opposed  to  the 
Klan.  This  individual  was  none  other  than  the  incumbent,  W.  D. 
Miller,  who  months  before  had  admitted  to  a  grand  jury  that  he  was  a 
member  of  the  Invisible  Empire. 

Not  long  after  the  Klan  had  taken  root  in  the  Lone  Star  State,  the 
Representative  from  the  Fifteenth  Congressional  District  in  Texas 
denounced  it  as  an  organization  that  was  totally  foreign  to  the  Ameri- 
can way  of  life.  The  Invisible  Empire  consequently  made  known  its 
intention  to  defeat  for  re-election  in  1922  this  antagonistic  legisla- 
tor. Members  of  the  local  chapter  of  the  order  in  their  regalia 
gathered  around  his  home  and  burned  a  cross;  they  sent  him  threaten- 
ing letters.  When  the  political  campaign  was  over,  the  Representative 
found  that  he  had  been  defeated  in  counties  he  had  never  before 
lost,  including  his  own.  Nevertheless,  he  was  re-elected  to  the  lower 
House.  That  individual  was  John  Nance  Garner,  later  to  be 
Speaker  of  the  House  of  Representatives  and  Vice-President  of  the 
United  States. 

A  few  generalizations  on  the  relationship  between  politicians  and  the 
southern  wing  of  the  Klan  can  be  set  forth  with  good  advantage. 
Politicians  in  a  section  of  the  nation  where  public  opinion  was  not 
solidly  anti-Klan  faced  the  dilemma  of  deciding  what  stand  to  take 
on  the  secret  order.  ;  Their  position  has  been  likened  to  that  of  one 
accosted  on  a  dark  street  by  a  masked  individual  who  said  he  had  a 
gun  and  would  shoot  straight  for  the  heart  if  his  orders  were  not  com- 
plied with.  Few  would  attempt  to  find  out  whether  there  really  was 
a  gun,  and  fewer  still,  whether  it  was  loaded. 

In  its  reliance  upon  the  threat  of  reprisal  against  recalcitrant  politi- 
cians, a  threat  too  perilous  to  be  ignored  but  too  vague  to  be  appraised 
or  offset,  lay  the  secret  of  the  political  power  of  the  Klan.  The  fear 
engendered  by  the  order's  threat  naturally  varied  from  one  part  of 
the  nation  to  another.  In  many  localities — New  England,  New  York, 
the  north  central  states,  the  mountain  states,  for  example — politicians 
naturally  felt  immune  to  the  vengeance  of  the  Invisible  Empire.  In 
other  sections  of  the  country,  however,  politicians  found  that  they 
could  ill  afford  to  "withstand  an  incalculable  impact,  of  indefinite  forces, 
from  an  invisible  source,  and  at  an  unexpected  time."  Such  a  section 
was,  of  course,  the  South. 

Throughout  the  South  chapters  of  the  secret  fraternity  affixed  a  stamp 


LOCAL  CHAPTER  ANTICS  57 

of  approval  to  candidates  for  office,  often  when  it  was  unsolicited  and 
sometimes  when  it  was  actually  refused,  usually  by  those  who  believed 
that  they  had  over  the  years  made  their  political  position  secure  enough. 
The  Klan  delighted  in  picking  a  winner.  However,  if  a  chapter  chanced 
to  support  a  defeated  candidate,  it  made  sure  to  broadcast  an  alibi,  for 
whatever  the  outcome  of  an  election,  the  Klan  considered  it  imperative 
that  others  be  convinced  that  its  influence  had  been  preponderant.fi 

The  individual  who  in  his  successful  quest  for  political  office  had 
sought  and  received  the  support  of  the  Invisible  Empire  frequently 
found  himself  regretting  the  liaison.  After  the  Klan  helped  elect  the 
candidate  to  a  position  of  public  trust,  it  could  remind  him  of  his  in- 
debtedness ad  infinitum,  ad  nauseam.  Worse  than  that,  it  might  inform 
the  politico  that  if  he  did  not  comply  with  its  wishes,  whether  poli- 
tical or  otherwise,  it  would  tell  the  public  (in  such  a  manner  as  to  leave 
the  impression  that  the  information  came  from  another  source)  of  their 
relationship.  Realizing  the  imminence  of  political  death  if  he  did  not 
"play  ball"  with  the  secret  order,  the  officeholder  more  often  than  not 
succumbed. 

After  having  had  a  decade  in  which  to  gain  an  historical  perspective 
of  the  southern  wing  of  the  Klan  in  politics,  E.  E.  Callaway,  in  the 
February,  1938,  issue  of  The  American  Mercury,  saw  a  salutary  aspect 
of  the  politicians'  consorting  with  the  secret  fraternity,  even  if  it 
meant  their  becoming  members.  The  contributor  to  this  influential 
magazine  held  that  there  was  no  question  but  that  thousands  of  the 
ablest  politicians  of  the  South,  sympathetic  with  neither  the  philosophy 
nor  the  methods  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  associated  themselves  with 
local  Klans  for  purely  political  reasons.  That  was  possibly  the  best 
thing  that  could  have  happened  at  the  time,  according  to  Callaway, 
for  if  these  men,  in  the  final  analysis  neither  weaklings  nor  demagogues, 
had  not  come  to  terms  with  the  secret  order,  they  would  have  been 
defeated,  and  the  very  worst  element  would  have  been  elected.  Thus 
the  result  would  have  been  the  thorough  domination  of  southern  politics 
by  others,  men  who  would  have  encouraged  both  racial  and  religious 
intolerance,  rather  than  restraining  them.  Callaway's  proposition 
does,  at  the  least,  contain  an  element  of  truth — and  the  thought  is 
comforting. 


Chapter  V 

STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES 

An  alert  traveller  making  an  extended  tour  of  the  South  in  the  mid- 
1920's  would  probably  have  perceived  as  he  made  his  way  from  the 
Upper  South  to  the  Deep  South  that  the  Klan  was  an  increasingly  im- 
portant factor  in  the  field  of.  state  politics.  If  this  observant  traveller 
had  in  fact  become  aware  of  that,  then  surely  he  would  have  noticed 
something  more  striking — the  existence  of  three  "pockets"  of  especial 
Klan  strength  in  Georgia,  Alabama,  and  Texas.  Each  of  these  "pockets" 
is  discussed  in  this  chapter. 

In  the  early  1920's  Klan  officials  were  wont  to  brag  about  the  link 
between  the  Invisible  Empire  and  the  legislative  branch  of  the  federal 
government.    In  a  letter  to  an  anti-Klan  Southerner,  dated  January  1, 

1920,  Imperial  Wizard  Simmons  declared  that  "among  the  Klan's 
most  appreciated  and  loyal  members  now  are  members  of  Congress." 
Mrs.  Tyler,  while  on  a  shopping  spree  in  New  York  City  in  the  fall  of 

1921,  took  time  off  to  tell  a  newspaper  reporter  that  although  she  was 
not  at  liberty  to  disclose  any  names,  it  was  quite  true  that  many  officials 
of  the  United  States  government  were  Knights.  Two  years  later  in 
the  Klan  magazine,  The  Dawn,  there  appeared  the  following: 

"Many  Congressmen  who  went  to  their  home  unfavorable  to  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan  will  return  to  Congress  as  members  of  the  great  Ameri- 
can organization  . . . 

"Engrossed  as  they  were  with  legislation  and  other  official  duties 
some  of  the  leaders  are  said  to  have  accepted  unfavorable  newspaper 
stories  as  true  accounts  of  the  Klan's  activities  and  the  background  of 
its   principles. 

"The  return  home  has  enabled  them  to  learn  first  hand  of  the  real 
regard  in  which  the  Klan  is  held  by  true  Americans.  Members  of  the 
organization  have  presented  its  claims  of  merit  successfully  so  that 
there  is  no  question  but  what  the  already  large  Klan  representation 
will  be  materially  increased." 

'More  extreme  than  all  this  was  the  assertion,  frequently  made  by 
Imperial  Kleagle  Clarke,  that  the  Klan  would  one  day  soon  be  in  actual 
control  of  the  United  States  Congress.1 

With  the  boasts  of  these  Klan  leaders  in  mind,  the  student  of  the 

58 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  59 

secret  order  would  do  well  to  pause  over  the  actions  of  two  Georgians 
who  served  in  the  Congress  during  the  early  1920's.  When  "Colonel" 
Simmons  made  his  first  appearance  before  the  House  Rules  Committee 
conducting  an  investigation  of  the  Klan  in  1921,  William  D.  Upshaw, 
Democratic  Representative  of  the  Fifth  District  of  Georgia,2  in  spite  of 
the  remarks  of  the  chairman  of  the  committee  that  Simmons  needed 
no  introduction,  delivered  a  bombastic  address  of  presentation,  full 
of  phrases  such  as  "his  sterling  character,"  "his  every  utterance  as  the 
truth  of  an  honest,  patriotic  man,"  "a  sturdy  and  inspiring  personality," 
"incapable  of  an  unworthy  unpatriotic  motive,  word  or  deed,"  and  "my 
long-time,  personal  friend."3 

Upshaw's  friendship  for,  and  championing  of,  the  Invisible  Empire 
was  of  long  standing.  He  declared  that  he  always  felt  "a  sort  of 
wounded  pride"  in  hearing  criticisms  hurled  at  the  organization.  On 
the  stationery  of  the  House  of  Representatives  he  once  penned  an  un- 
dated note  to  Mrs.  Tyler  stating,  "...  I  hope  you,  the  Wizard  and  the 
Near  Wizard  will  like  it  [an  article  to  be  published  in  the  Klan 
newspaper,  Searchlight,  it  appears].  If  I  can  serve  you  and  the 
Searchlight  further  please  do  not  hesitate  to  command  me."  In  the 
official  organs  of  the  Klan  no  representative  ever  got  more  coverage 
than  Upshaw.  Every  piece  of  legislation  he  introduced,  speech  he 
delivered,  article  he  wrote,  public  appearance  he  made  seems  to 
have  been  reported  in  the  newspapers  and  magazines  of  the  secret 
order. 

But  was  Upshaw  a  Knight?  Many  contemporary  observers  of  the 
fraternity  thought  so.  One  journalist,  for  example,  included  the  Geor- 
gian in  a  group  of  "Kluxers  in  good  standing";  another  referred  to  him 
as  "a  Klansman  who  had  been  elected  by  Klan  votes."  Charges  of 
membership  in  the  Invisible  Empire  were  never  substantiated.  This 
much,  however,  can  certainly  be  said  of  Upshaw:  if  he  was  never  a 
Klansman  in  fact,  he  was  always  a  Klansman  in  spirit. 

On  the  third  day  of  the  Congressional  investigation  of  the  Klan, 
Senator  Thomas  E.  Watson  of  Georgia  suddenly  strode  into  the 
hearings  room.  All  eyes  turned  upon  this  Democratic  legislator  widely 
known  for  his  onetime  leadership  in  the  Populist  party  and  his  recent 
participation  in  the  anti-Catholic  crusade.  Watson  edged  his  way 
through  the  crowd,  went  up  to  "Colonel"  Simmons,  who  was  preparing 
to  testify,  seized  him  by  the  hand,  whispered  into  his  ear,  and  then 
turned  around  and  sat  down.  A  moment  later  he  jumped  to  his  feet, 
demanding  the  right  to  question  the  witness  in  the  interest  of  "fair 
play."    As  he  put  a  question  to  the  Imperial  Wizard,  the  Senator  an- 


60  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

nounced  his  firm  resolve  to  protect  the  Klan  from  "any  unjust  attacks 
from  anybody."4  This  was  not  the  first  time  that  Watson  battled  for  the 
Invisible  Empire.  A  month  before  he  had  publicly  defended  the  order 
and  denounced  those  attacking  it. 

In  view  of  conduct  such  as  this,  it  is  no  wonder  that  the  Georgia 
Senator  was  charged  with  being  a  Knight.  What  reply  did  Watson 
make  to  the  allegation?  When  he  questioned  Simmons  during  the 
course  of  the  hearings  on  Klan  activities  held  before  the  House  Com- 
mittee on  Rules,  he  stated  unequivocally  that  he  was  not  a  member  of 
the  secret  order.  On  another  occasion,  however,  when  asked  by  one 
of  his  colleagues  in  the  Upper  House  about  his  affiliation  with  the  Klan, 
he  boasted  that  he  was  called  "the  King  of  the  Ku  Klux  in  Georgia."8 

In  1920  Thomas  W.  Hardwick,  a  former  United  States  Senator,  was 
elected  governor  of  Georgia.  During  his  two-year  term  of  office,  he 
demanded  that  the  order  discard  the  use  of  the  hood,  open  its  member- 
ship fists  to  the  public  and  cease  its  terroristic  activity.  Naturally,  he 
incurred  the  full  wrath  of  the  Klan. 

When  Hardwick  sought  re-election  in  1922,  the  secret  order  was  able 
to  avenge  itself.  During  the  course  of  the  campaign  for  the  Democratic 
nomination  for  the  governorship,  issues  of  the  Klan  newspaper,  Search- 
light, full  of  anti-Hardwick  articles,  were  distributed  throughout  the 
length  and  breadth  of  Georgia.  Twenty  trained  and  skilled  speakers, 
under  the  direction  of  Imperial  Klokard  William  James  Mahoney, 
delivered  addresses  all  over  the  state  denouncing  Hardwick.  Imperial 
Kludd  Caleb  Ridley  gave  lectures  against  him.  |  In  the  Democratic 
primary  in  July,  the  solid  vote  of  the  Klan  went  against  the  incumbent 
and  for  Clifford  Walker,  former  Attorney-General  of  the  state.  The 
latter  received  the  nomination  and  went  on  to  victory  in  the  fall  over 
his  Republican  opponent. 

Two  years  later,  in  the  1924  campaign  for  the  Democratic  nomina- 
tion for  the  United  States  senatorship  one  issue  took  precedence  over 
all  others — that  of  the  Klan.  As  a  candidate  for  the  nomination,  former 
Governor  Hardwick  alleged  early  in  July  that  a  delegation  from  the 
Klan  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia  had  called  on  Chief  Justice  Richard  B. 
Russell  of  the  State  Supreme  Court  regarding  the  senatorial  race. 
According  to  Hardwick,  the  deputation  of  Knights  informed  the  Chief 
Justice  that  their  order  was  determined  that  United  States  Senator 
William  J.  Harris  should  be  re-elected,  that  it  was  willing  to  spend 
$500,000  to  realize  that  end,  and  that  it  would  be  intensely  displeased 
if  Russell,  able  politician  and  proven  vote-getter  that  he  was,  entered 
the  Democratic  senatorial  primary. 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  61 

Hardwick  was  not  through  making  charges.  In  August  he  began  to 
deliver  speeches  accusing  Harris  of  being  a  member  of  the  Klan.  The 
latter  ignored  the  allegation.  But  not  for  long.  In  early  September 
Hardwick,  in  the  course  of  an  address,  read  a  letter  from  Mrs.  Elizabeth 
Tyler  to  the  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  local  Klan  in  Cedartown,  Polk 
County,  dated  March  16,  1922.  In  this  letter  Mrs.  Tyler  used  the 
phrase  "Hon.  W.  J.  Harris,  A.  K.  I.  A."  As  every  Knight  in  Georgia 
knew,  and  as  the  rest  of  the  inhabitants  of  the  state  were  to  find  out 
from  Hardwick,  "A.  K.  I.  A."  stood  for  "a  Klansman  I  am."  Confronted 
with  such  documentary  evidence,  Harris  found  it  necessary  to  reply. 
He  issued  a  statement  in  which  he  first  declared  that  he  was  not  nor 
ever  had  been  a  member  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  and  then  expressed 
disgust  that  Hardwick  should  "stoop  so  low"  as  to  read  in  the  closing 
hours  of  the  campaign  an  "alleged  letter  upon  which  he  deliberately 
places  a  false  interpretation." 

Harris,  receiving  the  Klan  vote,  won  the  nomination  by  one  of  the 
greatest  majorities  ever  given  a  candidate  in  Georgia.  With  all  but 
a  half  dozen  of  the  159  counties  of  the  state  going  for  him,  the  Demo- 
cratic primary  was  indeed  a  landslide  for  the  Senator. 

At  the  close  of  1922,  with  the  failure  of  Hardwick  to  be  re-elected 
Governor,  the  Klan  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia  had  taken  a  new  lease  on 
life.  Hardwick's  pronouncements  against  the  order's  use  of  the  hood, 
its  keeping  membership  lists  secret,  and  its  practice  of  terrorism  were 
now  only  to  be  laughed  at  by  self-satisfied  Knights.  Clifford  Walker 
was  Chief  Executive — and  Clifford  Walker  was  a  friend  of  the 
Invisible  Empire.  From  the  time  Walker  acceded  to  the  gover- 
norship, the  secret  order  was  given  free  rein  in  the  Empire  State  of  the 
South. 

One  of  the  candidates  in  the  1924  race  for  the  judgeship  of  the  Supe- 
rior Court  of  Fulton  County  was  Klansman  Gus  H.  Howard.  Having 
been  appointed  by  Governor  Walker  to  fill  out  an  unexpired  term, 
Howard  was  seeking  to  maintain  the  post  at  the  hands  of  the  voters. 
During  the  course  of  the  campaign  Walker  ordered  to  be  distributed  to 
the  women  voters  of  the  county  copies  of  a  personal  letter,  appealing 
to  them  to  cast  their  ballots  for  Judge  Howard.  To  no  small  portion  of 
the  femininity  of  the  state  the  Governor's  action  was  abhorrent.  Mrs. 
Rebecca  Latimer  Felton  of  Cartersville,  the  first  of  her  sex  ever  to  sit 
in  the  United  States  Senate,  took  it  upon  herself  to  lead  a  female  attack 
on  Walker.  She  charged  that  it  was  the  Klan  that  induced  the  Governor 
to  have  copies  of  the  letter  sent  out.  "It  is  said  he  is  a  Klansman.  I  do 
not  know,"  Mrs.  Felton  declared  caustically  about  Walker,  "but  it 


62  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

happens  he  hangs  up  his  Tiood  and  nightie'  in  the  capitol  of  Georgia." 
In  a  matter  of  a  few  weeks  the  Governor's  relationship  with  the  Klan 
would  be — if  that  was  possible — even  bigger  news. 

At  the  Second  Imperial  Klonvokation  of  the  Klan,  held  in  Kansas  City, 
Missouri,  in  September,  1924,  an  individual  identified  only  as  "the 
Governor  of  a  great  State"  delivered  a  speech  entitled  "Americanism 
Applied."  In  the  address  the  speaker  bewailed,  among  other  things, 
the  admission  into  the  United  States  of  "the  lower  type  of  foreigners" 
and  the  "taking  charge"  of  the  1924  Democratic  national  convention 
by  a  "gang  of  Roman  Catholic  priests." 

Upon  seeing  dispatches  from  the  Klan  convention  referring  to  the 
appearance  of  a  governor  during  its  proceedings,  newspapermen  were, 
of  course,  instantly  aware  of  a  great  story,  which  they  diligently  tracked 
down  to  the  executive  mansion  in  Atlanta.  It  was  found  out  that 
after  having  announced  that  he  was  going  to  Philadelphia  and  Wash- 
ington for  a  rest  and  vacation,  Walker  had  traveled  instead  to  Kan- 
sas City,  accompanied  by  State  Commissioner  of  Agriculture  J.  J. 
Brown  and  State  Commissioner  of  Fish  and  Game  Peter  S.  Twitty,  both 
of  whom  were  alleged  to  be  Knights  in  good  standing.  Finally,  on 
October  13,  1924,  Walker  informed  the  press  that  "the  Governor  of 
a  great  State"  who  addressed  the  Second  Imperial  Klonvokation  was 
he!  That  was  not  all.  Walker  admitted  that  he  had  joined  the  Klan 
years  before.  He  carefully  explained,  however,  that  he  had  never 
taken  any  part  in  its  council,  and  did  not  even  know  whether  his  mem- 
bership was  still  in  force. 

After  the  Georgia  Democratic  presidential  primary  of  March,  1924, 
in  which  former  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  William  G.  McAdoo  beat 
Senator  Oscar  W.  Underwood  of  Alabama,  much  controversy  arose 
in  the  State  Democratic  Committee  over  the  method  of  selecting  dele- 
gates to  the  state  convention  to  be  held  in  Atlanta  on  April  25.  In  dis- 
regard of  the  custom  of  the  Democratic  party  in  that  state,  McAdoo's 
Georgia  managers  demanded  the  right  to  appoint  all  delegates  to 
the  convention,  maintaining  that  McAdoo's  victory  in  the  primary  en- 
titled him  to  have  only  delegates  that  were  supporters  of  him.  Certain 
state  committeemen  insisted  on  holding  conventions  in  their  respective 
districts  so  that  delegates  could  be  elected  by  popular  vote,  a  proce- 
dure which  was  in  keeping  with  the  tradition  of  the  Democratic  party  in 
Georgia. 

The  latter  point  of  view  was  distasteful  to  the  Klan  in  Georgia,  which 
had  given  its  full  support  to  McAdoo  in  the  primary.  In  order  to  help 
McAdoo  should  the  advocates  of  local  autonomy  in  the  choosing  of 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  63 

delegates  be  victorious,  a  proclamation  was  issued  by  Nathan  Bedford 
Forrest,  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia,  to  all  the  Exalted 
Cyclopses  under  his  jurisdiction.    The  document  read  as  follows: 

"You  are  hereby  instructed  to  con  the  list  of  delegates  named  to  the 
State  Democratic  Convention  from  your  county  and  ascertain  the  names 
of  Klansmen  appearing  thereon,  and  issue  to  them  the  following  instruc- 
tions: No  district  caucus  will  be  held  prior  to  the  Convention.  Such 
caucus  will  take  place  at  the  Convention  as  provided  in  the  program. 
It  is  the  earnest  desire  of  Mr.  McAdoo  that  his  friends  elect  Major 
John  S.  Cohen  as  National  Committeeman.  Major  Cohen  is  a  high 
class  Christian  gentleman,  a  member  of  the  North  Avenue  Presbyterian 
Church  of  Atlanta,  and  in  every  sense  is  acceptable  to  us,  and  we  are 
assured  that'if  he  goes  to  New  York  the  Klan's  interests  will  be  ably 
protected.  Therefore  before  selecting  a  man  for  district  delegate  the 
Klansman  voting  should  assure  himself  as  to  the  stand  such  delegate 
will  take  with  reference  to  Major  Cohen  and  consequently  the  interest 
of  the  Klan.  You  will  impress  upon  the  Klansmen  delegates  the  ab- 
solute necessity  for  their  attendance  at  the  state  convention.  Those 
who  for  financial  reasons  will  be  unable  to  attend  should  have  their 
expenses  paid  by  the  local  Klan.  This  is  a  time  when  everyone  must 
do  his  bit  and  the  Klan  expects  that  everyone  will  do  his  duty."8 

The  outcome  of  the  controversy  over  the  method  of  selecting  dele- 
gates to  the  State  Democratic  convention  was  that  they  were  appointed 
by  McAdoo's  Georgia  managers.  At  this  convention,  which  had  the 
task  of  choosing  delegates  to  the  forthcoming  national  convention  of 
the  Democratic  party  in  New  York  City,  the  strength  of  the  Klan  was 
in  evidence.  Cohen  was  elected  National  Committeeman,  and  large 
numbers  of  individuals  who  were  alleged  to  be  Knights  were  included 
in  the  Georgia  delegation  to  the  national  convention.7 
A  Although  it  was  the  home  state  of  the  Klan,  Georgia  had  never 
equaled  certain  other  states  in  the  number  of  Knights  within  its  borders. 
With  Evans'  removal  of  Simmons,  Clarke,  and  Tyler  from  the  order  in 
1923,  Georgia's  supremacy  in  the  Invisible  Empire  began  to  decline. 
Washington,  D.  C,  came  nearer  to  being  the  center  of  operations  and 
authority  of  the  order  than  Atlanta,  the  official  seat.  As  a  matter  of 
fact,  before  the  1920's  drew  to  a  close  the  Klan  actually  transferred  its 
national  headquarters  from  the  capital  of  Georgia  to  the  capital  of 
the  United  States.   \ 

In  1926,  the  Klan  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia  suffered  a  severe  blow. 
In  the  Democratic  primaries  of  that  year  every  candidate  who  received 
the  backing  of  the  secret  order  went  down  to  defeat — for  the  com- 


64  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

missionership  of  Agriculture,  judgeship  of  the  State  Supreme  Court, 
United  States  senatorship,  and  governorship.  In  the  first  gubernatorial 
primary  J.  O.  Wood,  an  avowed  Knight,  finished  last  in  the  voting, 
and  in  the  "run-off"  of  October  6,  the  anti-Klan  banker  and  physician, 
L.  G.  Hardman  of  Commerce,  far  outdistanced  his  sole  opponent,  pro- 
Klan  John  Holder,  chairman  of  the  State  Highway  Commission. 
"Imperial  Wizard  Hiram  Evans  trembles  in  his  capital.  Georgia,  the 
seat  and  heart  of  his  empire,  has  revolted,"  editorialized  the  New  York 
Times.  Nevertheless,  the  order  still  exerted  political  influence  in 
the  small  cities  of  Georgia,  was  still  sought  after  as  an  ally  by  various 
candidates  for  state  office,  and  remained  powerful  enough  to  play  an 
impressive  part  in  the  commonwealth  during  the  national  election  of 
1928,  when  the  Democratic  party's  candidate  for  the  presidency  was  a 
Catholic,  Alfred  E.  Smith. 

During  the  1920's  the  Klan  in  Alabama  received  widespread  atten- 
tion for  its  participation  in  state  politics.  When  Senator  Oscar  W. 
Underwood  of  Alabama  made  a  bid  for  the  Democratic  presidential 
nomination  in  1924,  he  did  so  on  a  stand  in  favor  of  the  adoption  by  the 
national  convention  of  an  anti-Klan  plank.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
Senator  went  so  far  as  to  prepare  such  a  plank  ( it  was  patterned  after 
the  anti-Know-Nothing  plank  adopted  by  the  Democratic  national 
convention  of  1856)  and  have  it  read  to  the  delegates  assembled  in 
Madison  Square  Garden  in  New  York.  While  seeking  the  nomina- 
tion the  Alabaman  had  fiercely  assailed  the  Klan  and  its  policies — once 
in  Houston,  again  in  Boston,  another  time  in  Cleveland,  and  finally  in 
New  York. 

For  hurling  such  defiance  against  it,  the  Invisible  Empire  proclaimed 
that  it  would  force  Underwood  out  of  politics.  The  Klan  magazine, 
The  Dawn,  declared  that  Alabama  Klansmen  "are  going  to  romp  on 
Oscar  Underwood  so  hard  in  the  elections  that  he  won't  get  to 
first  base."  On  the  same  point,  an  official  newspaper  of  the  Klan, 
The  Fiery  Cross,  reported,  "They  will  take  it  out  in  hard  swatting 
when  the  time  comes.  The  Alabama  Senator  will  think  he  has  struck 
a  Texas  cyclone  ..."  At  the  Klonvokation  of  the  Klan  held  in  Kansas 
City,  Missouri,  in  September,  1924,  the  delegation  from  the  Realm  of 
Alabama,  after  scoring  Senator  Underwood  for  his  anti-Klan  ut- 
terances, vowed  that  it  "would  retire  him  in  1926."  During  an  open 
air  meeting  called  by  the  local  Klan  in  Birmingham,  on  October  15, 
1924,  to  initiate  individuals  into  the  order,  7,000  Knights  cheered  wildly 
while  a  coffin  containing  the  body  of  Underwood  in  effigy  was  'laid  to 
rest  "  through  a  trap  door  on  the  speaker's  platform. 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  65 

Underwood's  term  was  to  expire  in  1927.  He  postponed  announc- 
ing his  intentions  regarding  the  1926  Alabama  Democratic  senatorial 
primary  until  he  had  made  a  thorough  survey  of  the  political  scene. 
When  he  did  speak  it  was  to  make  known'  his  retirement  to  private 
life.  Filling  the  seat  in  the  United  States  Senate  vacated  by  Under- 
wood was  a  young  attorney  from  Birmingham,  Hugo  L.  Black. 

The  Klan  claimed  the  credit  for  Underwood's  withdrawal  from  poli- 
tics. In  the  January,  1928,  issue  of  The  World's  Work,  Evans  went  so 
far  as  to  describe  the  Senator's  removal  from  public  life  as  one  of  the 
"outstanding  achievements"  of  the  order.8 

Another  series  of  events  highlight  the  participation  of  the  Klan  in 
Alabama  politics.  One  member  of  Governor  Bibb  Graves'  administra- 
tion of  1927-1931  was  Charles  C.  McCall.  A  Knight,  he  was  elected 
Attorney-General  in  the  fall  of  1926  with  the  full  backing  of  his  secret 
fraternity.  Before  taking  office,  McCall  created  a  furor  throughout 
the  state  by  announcing  that  he  had  determined  to  appoint  to  the  post  of 
assistant  attorney-general  James  Esdale,  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm 
of  Alabama. 

The  State  Public  Service  Commission  protested  against  the  appoint- 
ment, declaring  in  an  open  letter  to  McCall  that  the  primary  job  of  the 
assistant  attorney-general  was  to  supervise  all  cases  coming  before 
it,  and  since  Esdale  was  without  any  experience  in  such  matters,  he 
would  only  hamper  the  work  of  the  commission.  McCall  reminded 
the  commission  that  responsibility  for  the  efficient  discharge  of  the 
duties  of  the  position  under  question  rested  by  law  not  upon  the  Public 
Service  Commission,  but  upon  the  attorney-general. 

It  was  Esdale  himself  who  put  an  end  to  the  affair.  After  a  conver- 
sation with  Andrew  G.  Patterson,  the  president  of  the  Public  Service 
Commission,  in  which  he  was  told  of  the  highly  technical  nature  of 
the  work  pertaining  to  the  commission,  Esdale  decided  to  write  the 
Attorney-General-elect  the  next  day  declining  the  appointment.  Es- 
dale was  reported  as  saying  that  after  learning  about  the  duties  of  the 
assistant  attorney-generalship,  he  would  not  accept  the  post  at  any 
salary.  Governor-elect  Graves,  who  Edsale  maintained  had  promised 
to  endorse  him  for  the  office,  remained  silent. 

In  its  very  first  year  the  Graves  administration  was  discomfited  by 
an  outbreak  of  Klan  lawlessness.  First  one  county,  then  another,  be- 
came the  scene  of  tar  and  featherings,  whippings,  and  brandings. 
In  one  county,  Crenshaw,  in  the  southern  part  of  the  state,  "night- 
riding"  was  indulged  in  so  frequently  by  hooded  and  robed  mobs  that 
a  reign  of  terror  could  almost  be  said  to  have  existed. 


66  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Distraught  over  this  eruption  of  Klan  violence,  Attorney-General 
McCall  quickly  embarked  upon  a  course  of  action  which  had  all  Ala- 
bama agog.  He  publicly  confessed  membership  in  the  secret  order, 
resigned  from  it,9  assailed  its  brutalities,  and  then  did  everything  in 
his  power  as  the  chief  law  officer  of  the  state  to  halt  its  course  of 
terrorism. 

Graves  was  called  upon  to  use  the  powers  of  his  office  to  effect  the 
liquidation  of  the  secret  order  in  Alabama;  he  refused  even  to 
consider  such  a  course.  Although  the  Governor  did  request  the  law 
enforcement  staff  of  the  state  to  aid  local  officials  in  the  investigation 
of  Klan  violence  and  the  prosecution  of  those  found  to  be  directly  re- 
sponsible for  it,  he  placed  in  the  Attorney-General's  path  many  and 
varied  obstacles.  Into  McCall's  hands  fell  a  document  pointing  to 
Graves'  duplicity  in  the  matter  of  stamping  out  Klan  terrorism.  It 
was  a  letter  from  James  Esdale  to  Ira  B.  Thompson,  Exalted  Cyclops  of 
the  Klan  in  Luverne,  dated  September  14,  1927.  The  gist  of 
the  letter  was  that  Esdale  was  certain  that  he  would  be  able  to 
convince  Graves  to  render  ineffective  McCall's  official  course  against 
the  secret  fraternity.  (Why  Graves  hamstrung  McCall  was  not  made 
known  to  the  public  until  a  decade  later,  when  the  former  admitted 
that  he  had  joined  the  Klan  before  acceding  to  the  governorship.)10 

As  a  result  of  outraged  public  opinion  and  a  more  vigorous  enforce- 
ment of  the  law  against  vigilance  committees,  Klan  terroristic  activity 
decreased  rather  quickly.  But  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan,  Realm  of  Alabama,  was  now  irreparably  discredited;  its 
membership  shrank  steadily.  The  order  remained  vigorous  enough, 
however,  to  play  an  important  role  in  Alabama  during  the  presidential 
election  of  1928. 

During  the  1920's  the  Klan  in  Texas  was  as  intensely  active  in  politics 
on  the  state  level  as  it  was  on  the  local.  In  1922  the  secret  order  made 
its  influence  felt  quite  dramatically  in1  the  race  for  the  United  States 
senatorship.  In  the  Democratic  primary  of  that  year,  which  took 
place  on  July  22,  many  individuals  aggressively  sought  the  seat  held 
by  Charles  A.  Culberson,  who  after  a  quarter-century  of  continuous 
service  in  the  Upper  House  campaigned  for  re-election  in  a  less 
than  forceful  manner  because  of  ill  health.  Three  of  the  candidates  for 
the  nomination  were  admittedly  pro-Klan,  while  the  remaining  four 
were  anti-Klan.  Included  in  the  former  group  were  an  avowed 
Knight,  Earle  B.  Mayfield  of  Austin,  a  member  of  the  State  Railroad 
Commission11;  Robert  L.  Henry  of  Waco,  a  Representative  who  had 
recently  terminated  twenty  years  of  service;  and  Sterling  P.  Strong  of 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  67 

Dallas,  an  attorney.  Those  comprising  the  latter  group  were,  in  addition 
to  Culberson  himself,"  James  E.  Ferguson  of  Temple,  a  former  Gover- 
nor of  the  state;  Clarence  Ousley  of  Fort  Worth,  a  former  Assistant 
Secretary  of  Agriculture;  and  Cullen  F.  Thomas  of  Dallas,  a  prominent 
prohibitionist. 

Before  the  primary  took  place  the  Klan  of  the  Realm  of  Texas  held 
its  own  elimination  contest,  voting  upon  the  three  pro-Klan  candidates.13 
Having  chosen  a  man,  Knights  all  over  the  Lone  Star  State  voted  solidly 
for  him  in  the  primary.  This  Klan-endorsed  nominee  received  a  plural- 
ity of  the  ballots  cast.  The  four  anti-Klan  candidates,  having  devised 
no  plan  of  concerted  action,  remained  in  the  race  and  split  the  majority 
vote  among  themselves."  In  accordance  with  Texas  law,  since  no  one 
candidate  had  received  a  majority,  a  second,  or  "run-off,"  primary  was 
held  on  August  26,  limited  to  the  two  individuals  who  had  polled  the 
greatest  number  of  votes  in  the  initial  primary.  The  contenders  were 
Klan-endorsed  Earle  B.  Mayfield  and  Klan-loathed  James  E.  Fer- 
guson.16   Mayfield  won  the  nomination  by  60,000  votes. 

What  happened  to  ex-Representative  Henry  in  the  race  for  the 
Democratic  nomination  for  the  senatorship  should  be  noted.  Months 
before  the  primary  was  to  take  place  Henry  traveled  to  national  Klan 
headquarters  in  Atlanta  to  see  Imperial  Wizard  Simmons  and  returned 
to  Texas  with  the  Klan  chiefs  personal  endorsement  for  the  legis- 
lative post.  Mayfield,  in  his  attempt  to  get  the  support  of  the 
secret  order,  used  a  different  tactic.  He  first  approached  the  Grand 
Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Texas  and  his  cabinet,  then  the  Great 
Titans  of  all  five  Provinces  and  their  councils  of  advisors,  and  lastly  the 
Exalted  Cyclopses  of  many  of  the  local  Klans  and  their  fellow  officers. 

Before  Henry  was  aware  of  what  was  happening,  the  Klan  in  Texas 
had  disregarded  the  wishes  of  the  Imperial  Wizard  and  settled  on 
Mayfield  as  its  choice  for  the  United  States  senatorship.19  Henry, 
therefore,  immediately  terminated  his  affiliation  with  the  Klan  ( it  was 
alleged  at  the  time  that  he  had  been  a  Knight  in  good  standing  but 
resigned  in  indignation  from  the  order),17  and  went  to  the  press 
with  what  he  was  wont  to  call  a  "double-cross."  The  former  Repre- 
sentative, embittered,  remained  in  the  race  for  the  senatorship  until  the 
end.  It  is  not  to  be  overlooked  that  he  received  the  fewest  number  of 
votes  in  the  initial  primary. 

A  substantial  group  of  Democrats,  taking  the  position  that  Mayfield 
was  the  nominee  of  Klandom  rather  than  of  their  party,  turned  to 
the  Republicans  with  the  suggestion  of  a  fusion  candidate.  E.  P. 
Wilmot  of  Austin,  a  banker,  already  tapped  by  the  Republican  party 


68  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

as  its  choice  for  the  United  States  senatorship  was  withdrawn,  and 
Democrat  E.  B.  Peddy,  a  Houston  attorney,  was  substituted  as  the 
Republican  and  Independent  Democratic  candidate.  In  the  general 
election  on  November  7  Mayfield  won  easily,  receiving  264,260  votes 
to  Peddy's  130,744. 

After  the  election  Peddy  charged  that  his  opponent  had  won  the 
seat  in  Congress  through  gross  irregularities.  The  case  against  May- 
field  was  brought  before  the  Senate  Committee  on  Privileges  and 
Elections,  which  conducted  its  hearings  from  May  8" to  December  18, 
1924.  The  most  important  charges  submitted  to  the  committee  by 
Peddy's  attorneys  were  that  voters  had  been  intimidated  by  large 
numbers  of  Mayfield  campaigners;  a  vast  sum  of  money,  many  times  in 
excess  of  the  $10,000  which  was  the  maximum  permitted  under  Texas 
law,  had  been  spent  by  Mayfield  forces  in  the  two  primaries;  Mayfield 
had  not  resigned  from  the  Klan  before  his  election,  as  he  had  al- 
ways contended;  and  Klan  funds  had  been  put  into  a  massive  publicity 
campaign  in  Mayfield's  behalf.18 

The  testimony  pertaining  to  the  use  of  Klan  funds  to  secure  the 
election  of  Mayfield  formed  a  high  light  in  the  many  sessions  held  by 
the  Senate  Committee  on  Privileges  and  Elections.  J.  Q.  Jett,  who 
had  served  the  Klan  variously  as  a  recruiter  in  its  Propagation  Depart- 
ment, as  a  member  of  its  secret  service,  and  as  a  doorman  at  its  na- 
tional headquarters  in  Atlanta,  declared  that  Evans  (very  soon  to  be 
Imperial  Wizard,  he  was  at  the  time  Imperial  Kligrapp)  had  given  a 
memorandum  for  $25,000  to  N.  N.  Furney,  cashier  of  the  order,  who  had 
gone  to  the  bank  and  returned  with  a  handbag  containing  money. 
Evans  had  wrapped  the  bills  in  paper  and  then  departed  with  a  visit- 
ing group  of  Texans  that  was  to  be  sent  back  home  to  work  in  May- 
field's  behalf.  Jett  stated  further  that  in  a  four- way  conversation  he 
had  engaged  in,  Evans  had  turned  to  Mrs.  Tyler  and  told  her  that  she 
could  well  afford  to  present  $100,000  from  the  Propagation  Department 
to  the  Mayfield  campaign,  in  view  of  the  fact  that  in  1922  Texas  seemed 
to  be  the  only  state  in  which  a  Knight  could  be  elected  to  federal  office. 

The  committee  learned  from  Edward  Young  Clarke  that  when  he 
had  been  affiliated  with  the  Klan  as  Imperial  Kleagle,  expenses  of  the 
organization  had  had  to  be  approved  by  a  finance  committee,  with 
which  he  himself  had  nothing  to  do,  but  from  which  he  had  heard 
protests  in  the  summer  of  1922  regarding  the  amount  of  money  Evans 
had  been  spending  in  the  Texas  primaries  then  taking  place. 

At  a  dinner  in  Roanoke,  Virginia,  in  1922,  Evans  had  remarked  that 
the  Mayfield  campaign  had  cost  the  Klan  national  headquarters  be- 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  69 

tween  $80,000  and  $100,000,  according  to  F.  M.  Littlejohn,  a  former 
Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  local  Klan  in  Charlotte,  North  Carolina. 

Furney  testified  before  the  committee  in  Mayfield's  behalf  that  no 
Klan  funds  had  ever  been  drawn  by  Evans  as  described  by  Jett,  and 
that  none  had  ever  been  dispatched  to  Texas  for  the  Mayfield  campaign. 

J.  E.  McQuinn,  assistant  cashier  of  the  Klan,  had  already  taken  the 
stand  before  his  immediate  superior  to  deny  that  there  was  any  item 
in  the  books  of  the  organization  which  pointed  to  contributions  to  the 
Mayfield  campaign  in  the  primaries  or  general  election. 

The  Senate  Committee  on  Privileges  and  Elections  heard  testimony 
on  not  only  the  efforts  put  forth  by  the  national  body  of  the  secret 
order  to  help  elect  Mayfield  but  also  the  efforts  of  the  Klan  of  the  Realm 
of  Texas  and  its  individual  local  chapters.  J.  F.  Collier,  a  public  ac- 
countant in  Dallas,  testified  that  in  auditing  the  records  of  the  local 
Klan  in  that  city  in  1922  and  1923,  he  had  found  one  item  that  was  for 
$11,102.04  under  the  entry  "Educational  and  Propaganda,"  more  than 
half  of  which  had  been  paid  to  Lowrey  &  Lowrey,  a  publicity  outfit. 
Collier  explained  that  although  he  would  be  unable  to  declare  under 
oath  for  what  purpose  that  amount  had  been  paid  to  Lowrey  & 
Lowrey,  he  understood  that  that  firm  had  handled  funds  for  the  local 
Klan  in  Dallas  in  the  political  campaign  of  1922. 

H.  M.  Keeling  told  the  committee  that  during  a  three-month  period 
in  1922  he  had  been,  as  an  employee  of  Lowrey  &  Lowrey,  in  charge 
of  part  of  the  publicity  devoted  to  the  political  activities  of  the  local 
Klan  in  Dallas.  "We  were  supposed,"  Keeling  explained,  "to  create 
sentiment  in  the  county  [Dallas]  among  voters  in  favor  of  the 
entire  klan  ticket ...  It  was  really  a  Democratic  ticket,  but  there  were 
certain  gentlemen  on  that  Democratic  ticket  who  were  different  from 
others.  We  called  them  the  klan  ticket."  In  reply  to  a  question  as 
to  where  he  had  secured  the  funds  with  which  to  pay  expenses,  Keel- 
ing mentioned  that  he  had  received  a  number  of  checks  from  George 
K.  Butcher,  an  officer  of  the  local  Klan  in  Dallas,  signed  "George 
King,"  and  that  they  had  been  drawn  on  the  account  of  a  Benton 
Joiner,  as  trustee.  "George  King"  was  a  name  belonging  to  no  one  in 
the  local  Klan,  Keeling  went  on,  but  on  one  occasion  he  had  observed 
Butcher  from  across  the  room  signing  a  check,  which  when  brought 
over  and  handed  to  him  had  had  the  signature  "George  King". 

Called  as  witnesses  by  counsel  for  Mayfield  were  two  officials  of 
the  Klan  in  Texas.  F.  G.  Van  Valkenburg,  chairman  of  the  finance 
committee  of  the  local  Klan  in  Dallas,  readily  admitted  that  various 
funds  collected  by  the  chapter  to  which  he  belonged  had  been  used  for 


70  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

local  political  purposes  during  1922,  but  stoutly  denied  that  any  part 
of  it  had  gone  to  help  elect  Mayfield  to  the  United  States  senatorship. 
As  to  the  sum  spent  by  his  chapter  in  the  1922  political  campaign, 
Van  Valkenburg  said  it  had  amounted  to  approximately  $700  a  week. 
Admitting  that  Mayfield's  name  had  been  printed  on  the  Klan 
ticket,  Van  Valkenburg  hastened  to  add  that  Mayfield,  upon  finding  out 
about  it,  had  "raised  Sam  Hill."  Brown  Harwood,  Grand  Dragon  of 
the  Realm  of  Texas  in  1922,  affirmed  that  the  only  Klan  funds  he  had 
ever  spent  in  Mayfield's  behalf  was  $6  or  $8  for  stationery  and  stamps. 

After  listening  to  this  and  other  testimony  of  the  most  sensational 
kind,  testimony  that  had  attracted  the  attention  of  the  entire  nation, 
the  Senate  Committee  on  Privileges  and  Elections  decided  that  there 
were  no  grounds  for  the  unseating  of  Mayfield.  As  to  the  charges  per- 
taining specifically  to  the  Klan's  role  in  bringing  about  the  election  of 
Mayfield,  the  committee  was  fully  convinced  of  there  being  a  lack  of 
evidence  conclusively  proving  illegal  activity. 

In  1924  the  Klan  again  played  an  influential  role  in  the  state  politics 
of  Texas.  In  the  Democratic  gubernatorial  primary,  held  on  July  26, 
the  secret  order  quite  actively  campaigned  for  Judge  Felix  D.  Robert- 
son of  Dallas.  One  of  the  Judge's  opponents  was  Miriam  A.  Ferguson.18 
Her  supporters  would  have  chosen  her  spouse  if  they  could,  but  he  was 
unable  to  have  his  name  appear  on  the  ballot.  In  1917  James  E. 
Ferguson  had  been  impeached  as  governor  and  declared  permanently 
ineligible  to  hold  a  state  office.  The  chief  charges  brought  against  him 
were  that  he  had  misapplied  $5,600  of  public  money,  borrowed  $156,500 
from  a  "questionable"  source,  exerted  improper  influence  on  the  Board 
of  Regents,  and  violated  the  state  constitution  in  his  use  of  the  veto.30 
It  was  thus  that  Mrs.  Ferguson  based  her  campaign  (in  the  beginning, 
at  least)  on  a  fight  for  the  vindication  of  her  husband  at  the  hands  of 
the  voters  of  the  state. 

With  no  candidate  receiving  a  majority  in  the  initial  primary,  Robert- 
son and  Mrs.  Ferguson,  as  the  individuals  who  had  received  the 
greatest  and  next  to  the  greatest  number  of  votes  respectively,21  were 
required  to  contend  against  each  other  in  the  "run-off."  In  the  offing 
was  one  of  the  most  heated  political  campaigns  to  take  place  in  Texas. 
The  group  supporting  Mrs.  Ferguson  adopted  as  its  war  whoop  "Me  for 
Ma";  that  of  Robertson,  the  core  of  which  was  composed  of  Knights, 
countered  with  "Not  Ma  for  me.    Too  much  Pa."22 

Ferguson  became  campaign  manager  for  his  wife  and  made  most  of 
her  political  addresses  for  her.28  Although  he  continually  assaulted 
Robertson  as  the  "Klandidate,"  Ferguson  was  personally  not  in  too  much 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  71 

disagreement  with  the  anti-Negro,  anti-Catholic,  anti-Semitic,  and 
anti-foreign-born  philosophy  of  the  secret  fraternity.  Consequently, 
in  the  campaign  "Pa"  Ferguson's  fight  with  the  Klan  was  directed 
against  its  desire  for  political  domination  in  Texas  ( which  clashed  with 
his  own),  employing  extra-legal  methods  to  carry  out  its  regulative 
program,  and  being  an  organization  in  which  a  hierarchy  was  able  to 
accumulate  much  wealth  and  inordinate  power.  On  their  part,  Robert- 
son and  those  who  stumped  the  state  for  him  tactically  ignored  Mrs. 
Ferguson  in  their  campaign  speeches  and  denounced  her  husband 
as,  for  example,  an  "egregious  scoundrel,"  an  "insidious  liar,"  and  a 
"whiskey  politician." 

In  the  "run-off,"  held  on  August  23,  Mrs.  Ferguson  obtained  the 
backing  of  five  of  the  seven  candidates  who  were  dropped  after  the 
initial  primary,  for  each  of  the  five  was  an  individual  of  strong  anti- 
Klan  persuasion.  Throughout  the  state  large  numbers  of  politicians 
flocked  to  Mrs.  Ferguson's  support  in  the  second  primary,  not  because 
they  were  for  her  but  because  they  were  against  Robertson  as  the  Klan- 
endorsed  candidate.  Despite  the  backing  of  the  Invisible  Empire, 
Robertson  was  defeated  in  the  second  primary  by  nearly  100,000  votes.21 

At  the  State  Democratic  convention  in  Austin  on  September  2-3,  the 
Klan  was  to  suffer  its  worst  political  drubbing  to  date.  The  whole 
affair  was  completely  controlled  by  the  Ferguson  wing  of  the  party.  So 
that  the  convention  would  be  thoroughly  anti-Klan  in  personnel,  no 
delegation  composed  of  a  substantial  group  of  Knights  was  seated  and 
every  attempt  by  certain  delegations  to  have  a  friend  of  the  order 
placed  on  the  important  credentials  and  platform  committees  was 
decisively  defeated  by  the  election  of  a  substitute  committeeman 
favorable  to  the  Fergusons.  The  entire  proceedings  were  filled  with 
oratory  mercilessly  condemning  the  Invisible  Empire  and  its  methods. 
Evidently  feeling  that  all  this  was  not  enough,  the  convention  inserted 
in  its  platform  an  anti-Klan  plank  that  was  indeed  not  meant  to  be 
merely  glanced  at.  It  began:  "The  Democratic  party  emphatically 
condemns  and  denounces  what  is  known  as  the  Invisible  Empire  of 
the  Ku  Klux  Klan  as  an  un-democratic,  un-Christian  and  un-American 
organization." 

Mrs.  Ferguson's  Republican  opponent  in  the  general  election,  held  on 
November  4,  was  George  C.  Butte,  dean  of  the  law  school  of  the 
University  of  Texas.  He  was  assailed  by  "Pa"  Ferguson  as  "a  little 
mutton-headed  professor  with  a  Dutch  diploma,"  who  was  taking 
orders  from  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Texas  Z.  E.  Marvin,  "the 
same  as  Felix  Robertson  did."    Butte,  maintaining  that  the  Fergusons 


72  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

were  attempting  to  ride  into  the  executive  mansion  in  Austin  on  the 
Klan  issue  cried,  "Mr.  Ferguson  calls  everybody  a  Ku  Klux  who  doesn't 
agree  with  him.    He  has  even  called  me  one." 

The  November  4  election,  according  to  the  New  York  Times,  signal- 
ized "the  greatest  political  revolution  that  ever  took  place  in  Texas." 
Tens  of  thousands  of  rock-ribbed  Democrats  cast  a  ballot  for  a  Re- 
publican candidate  for  the  very  first  time.  Klansmen  deserted  whole- 
sale the  Democratic  party  to  back  the  Republican  gubernatorial 
nominee.  That  was  not  all.  A  number  of  anti-Klan  Democrats,  out- 
raged at  the  thought  that  a  governor  removed  from  office  on  impeach- 
ment charges  could  return  to  power  through  subterfuge,  had  founded 
soon  after  the  "run-off"  an  association  called  the  "Good  Government 
Democratic  League  of  Texas,"  the  purpose  of  which  was  to  aid  the 
Republicans  in  defeating  Mrs.  Ferguson  in  the  general  election.  This 
newly  formed  organization  of  anti-Ferguson  Democrats  had  given  its 
full  support  to  Butte. 

Butte  was  defeated  by  more  than  125,000  votes.28  Mrs.  Ferguson 
became  the  first  female  Governor  of  the  state  of  Texas.  An  outstanding 
southern  editor,  George  Fort  Milton  of  the  Chattanooga  News,  reflect- 
ing upon  the  election,  penned,  "The  big  trouble  with  the  Klan  political- 
ly is  that  its  mere  existence  allows  a  vicious  band  of  reactionaries  to 
shelter  behind  the  anti-Klan  charge.  .  .  .  They  offer  a  choice  of  two 
evils,  and  I  will  confess  it  is  a  terrible  choice.  Had  it  not  been  for  the 
Klan  Jim  Ferguson  never  could  have  elected  his  wife  (which  means- 
himself)  in  Texas."88 

In  addition  to  being  marked  by  behind-the-scenes  domination  by  her 
husband,  favoritism  in  the  granting  of  contracts  for  public  works,  and 
a  policy  of  extreme  liberality  in  dispensing  of  pardons,  Mrs.  Fergu- 
son's two-year  administration  was  characterized  by  a  not  unexpected 
hostility  to  the  Invisible  Empire.  She  practiced  what  she  had  preached 
as  governor-nominate  regarding  the  non-appointment  to,  and  the 
removal  from,  state  office  of  any  individual  who  was  a  member  of  the 
Klan.  Also,  she  convinced  the  legislature  to  pass  a  bill  making  it  un- 
lawful for  any  secret  society  to  allow  its  members  to  be  masked  or 
disguised  in  public. 

In  1926  Mrs.  Ferguson  sought  re-election  to  the  governorship.  In 
the  Democratic  primary  she  was  opposed  by  the  youthful  and  able 
Attorney-General  Daniel  Moody.  During  the  race  Mrs.  Ferguson  and 
her  husband,  in  an  effort  to  make  the  Klan  issue  serve  them  as  it  had 
two  years  before,  attempted  to  link  Moody  with  the  Invisible  Empire. 
However,  since  Moody,  first  as  District  Attorney  of  Williamson  and 


STATEWIDE  ACTIVITIES  73 

Travis  counties,  and  then  as  the  chief  law  officer  of  the  state,  had 
diligently  and  successfully  fought  the  secret  order,  the  Fergusons 
could  not  effectively  accuse  him  of  being  sympathetic  to  it.  The 
nomination  was  given  to  Moody,27  who  went  on  to  win  by  a  350,000 
majority  over  his  Republican  opponent  that  fall. 

During  the  primary  campaign  "Pa"  Ferguson  had  declared  that 
Moody's  election  would  usher  in  "the  rule  of  the  Wizard."  But  a  little 
over  a  week  after  he  had  won  the  Democratic  nomination  for  the  gover- 
norship, which  was  tantamount  to  victory  in  the  general  election  to 
follow,  Moody  let  it  be  known  that  he  wanted  the  State  Democratic 
convention  to  adopt  a  plank  calling  for  the  resignation  of  all  holders 
of  state  office  who  were  members  of  secret  societies  that  tended  to 
"breed  hate,  prejudice  and  religious  jealousy." 

jl  As  the  second  half  of  the  1920's  got  under  way  the  disintegration  of 
the  Klan  in  Texas  was  quite  evident.  ,A.t  the  beginning  of  1926,  there 
were  about  18,000  paying  members  of  the  order  in  the  Lone  Star  State 
as  compared  with  97,000  a  year  and  a  half  before,  according  to  former 
Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Texas  Z.  E.  Marvin.  That  stronghold  of 
the  secret  fraternity,  Dallas,  could  account  for  a  mere  1,200  Knights 
in  1926,  whereas  two  years  previously  it  was  able  to  boast  of  13,000. 
In  none  of  the  five  provinces  into  which  the  Realm  of  Texas  was  divid- 
ed did  there  remain  the  political  power  that  elected  Earle  B.  Mayfield 
to  the  U.S.  Senate  in  1922  and  almost  elected  Felix  D.  Robertson  to 
the  governorship  in  1924.  "At  the  opening  of  this  year  [1926]  not  a 
province  .  .  .  could  pay  its  help,"  Marvin  was  quoted  as  saying.  Some 
observers  even  went  so  far  as  to  declare  that  a  Klan  endorsement  of 
an  office  seeker  in  Texas  would  mean  certain  defeat  for  him.  While 
on  a  pleasure  trip  to  New  York  City  in  the  summer  of  1927,  Governor 
Moody,  in  reply  to  a  question  as  to  whether  the  order  continued  to  be 
influential  back  home,  declared  unhesitatingly,  "The  Klan  in  Texas  is 
as  dead  as  the  proverbial  doornail."  It  was  obvious  that  the  fraternity's 
tremendous  power  in  the  state,  both  numerically  and  politically, 
was  no  more.  Be  that  as  it  may,  the  Klan  still  possessed  enough 
strength  to  affect  the  voting  in  Texas  during  the  presidential  election 
of  1928. 


Chapter  VI 

DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS 

The  national  convention  of  the  Republican  party  held  in  Cleveland, 
Ohio,  from  June  10  to  12,  1924,  was  a  harmonious  affair.  The  first 
and  only  ballot  for  the  presidential  nomination  gave  to  the  occupant 
of  the  White  House,  Calvin  Coolidge,  all  but  44  of  the  1,109  votes 
cast.  When  former  Governor  Frank  O.  Lowden  of  Illinois  rejected 
the  vice-presidential  nomination  awarded  him  on  the  second  ballot, 
the  convention  promptly  chose  as  Coolidge's  running  mate  Charles 
G.  Dawes,  a  Chicago  banker  who  had  served  as  the  first  Director  of  the 
Budget. 

In  the  drafting  and  adoption  of  the  platform,  too,  a  minimum  of 
discord  was  evidenced.  Each  plank  accepted  by  the  delegates  was 
a  true  reflection  of  the  views  of  their  standard-bearer.  Among  other 
things,  the  platform  praised  governmental  economy  and  tax  reduction, 
declared  against  American  entry  into  the  League  of  Nations,  endorsed 
the  World  Court,  approved  the  limitation  of  armaments,  pledged  agri- 
cultural reform,  recommended  a  continued  restrictive  immigration 
policy,  and  demanded  punishment  of  all  those  guilty  of  the  recently 
exposed  corruption  in  government. 

There  were,  however,  circumstances  concerning  one  area  of  the 
platform-making  that  did  jar  the  serenity  of  the  convention.  R.  B. 
Creager,  a  national  committeeman  from  Texas  and  a  member  of  the 
Committee  on  Platform  and  Resolutions,  headed  a  small  group  which 
demanded  of  the  party  that  it  adopt  a  declaration  against  the  Klan. 
The  delegation  from  New  York  also  favored  an  official  denunciation 
of  the  secret  fraternity.  Dr.  Charles  F.  Thwing,  president  emeritus  of 
Western  Reserve  University,  presented  to  the  Committee  on  Platform 
and  Resolutions  a  proposal  signed  by  several  prominent  citizens  ask- 
ing for  an  anti-Klan  plank.  The  seven-hour  animated  discussion  by 
the  platform  committee  regarding  the  inclusion  of  a  plank  condemning 
the  order  broke  out  at  one  point  in  a  heated  argument. 

The  most  interesting  aspect  of  the  anti-Klan  plank  issue  at  the 
Republican  national  convention  was  an  enterprise  with  which  the 
delegates  themselves  had  nothing  to  do.  Sixty  representatives  of  the 
Klan,  headed  by  Evans  and  Walter  F.  Bossert,  Grand  Dragon  of  the 

74 


DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS  75 

Realm  of  Indiana,  traveled  to  Cleveland,  where  they  set  up  head- 
quarters at  the  Hotel  Statler.  This  deputation  of  the  Invisible  Empire 
threatened  to  "punish"  Creager  for  his  persistent  attacks,  and  swore  to 
remain  on  the  scene  until  the  platform  committee  completely  rejected 
the  idea  of  an  arraignment  of  their  order. 

What  the  platform  committee  finally  presented  to  the  convention 
for  its  consideration  was  a  plank,  promptly  adopted,  which  contained 
no  direct  and  positive  statements  on  the  Klan,  but  read  simply:  "The 
Republican  Party  reaffirms  its  unyielding  devotion  to  the  Constitution 
and  to  the  guarantees  of  civil,  political,  and  religious  liberty  therein 
contained." 

The  Republicans  heard  from  the  sixty  Knights  who  had  gone  to 
Cleveland  more  than  their  views  on  an  anti-Klan  plank.  Nothing  less 
than  sensational  was  the  statement  which  Klan  headquarters  at  the 
Hotel  Statler  gave  out  on  June  9.  It  read:  "All  of  our  boys  throughout 
the  nation  will  understand  only  one  thing,  and  that  is  Senator  James 
E.  Watson  [of  Indiana]  for  Vice  President  —  flat.  We  will  deny  any 
responsibility  for  the  defeat  of  the  Republican  Party  at  the  polls  in 
November  if  Watson  is  not  selected  for  Vice  President,  on  the  ground 
that  he  is  the  most  available  candidate  to  carry  the  Middle  Western 
States  which  are  necessary  for  the  election  of  Coolidge." 

Senator  Watson  immediately  spurned  the  endorsement  of  the  secret 
order,  saying,  "I  don't  belong  to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan.1  If  they  have  issued 
a  statement  naming  me,  they  have  done  it  for  the  express  purpose 
of  injuring  me.  Such  a  statement  was  made  without  my  knowledge 
or  consent,  and  is  wholly  without  authority  from  me  or  anyone  having 
the  right  to  represent  me."  Watson's  advisors  vigorously  assailed  the 
Klan  pronouncement.  Many  of  them,  believing  that  the  Senator's 
chances  for  the  vice-presidential  nomination  ( never  very  good  to  begin 
with)  were  now  completely  destroyed,  urged  him  to  release  the  In- 
diana delegation,  which  was  pledged  to  him  for  that  office.  Watson 
refused  to  do  so. 

Thereupon  Evans  repudiated  the  Klan  declaration  as  unauthorized 
and  untrue:  "The  statement  that  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  are 
demanding  the  nomination  of  any  man  to  any  office  is  unqualifiedly 
false.  I  am  the  only  man  authorized  to  authoritatively  speak  for  the 
Klan,  and  I  solemnly  affirm  that  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  is 
not  in  politics  .  .  .  and  the  statement  appearing  in  the  press  attributed 
to  me  concerning  Senator  James  E.  Watson  is  without  foundation  of 
fact."2    Here  the  matter  rested. 

Antipodal  to  the  brief  and  tranquil  Republican  national  convention 


76  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

was  the  Democratic  one  held  at  Madison  Square  Garden  in  New  York; 
it  lasted  from  June  24  to  July  9  amid  scenes  of  the  grossest  sort  of 
antipathy  and  factiousness.  Nothing  could  alter  the  fact  that  the 
Democratic  party  was  violently  split  on  a  new  political  issue  —  the 
Klan. 

Unlike  the  case  with  the  Republicans,  the  Klan  question  could  not  be 
disposed  of  quickly  and  quietly.  Historically  and  traditionally,  there 
were  two  great  wings  of  the  Democratic  party  constantly  at  odds  with 
each  other  —  the  South  and  the  East.  The  former  was  rural,  agricul- 
tural, overwhelmingly  Protestant,  native-born,  prohibitionist,  and  con- 
servative, while  the  latter  was  urban,  industrial,  heavily  Catholic,  of 
recent  immigrant  stock,  anti-prohibitionist,  and  liberal.  The  issue  of 
the  secret  order  could  do  no  other  than  to  widen  appreciably  the 
gulf  between  the  two  wings  of  the  party,  for  the  South  was  the  home 
of  the  Klan  and  the  East  the  center  of  anti-Klanism.s 

The  proceedings  of  the  first  four  days  of  the  convention,  however, 
gave  no  indication  that  actual  calamity  was  to  take  place.  Senator  Pat 
Harrison  of  Mississippi,  as  temporary  chairman  and  keynote  speaker, 
and  Senator  Thomas  J.  Walsh  of  Montana,  who  had  gained  fame  as 
chief  investigator  of  the  fraudulent  leasing  of  naval  oil  reserves  at 
Teapot  Dome  and  Elk  Hills,  as  permanent  chairman,  scored  the  Re- 
publican party.  Both  addresses  were  received  with  the  enthusiastic 
applause  of  all  delegates.  The  nominating  speeches  did  contain  allu- 
sions to  the  Klan  issue,  which  triggered  lively  demonstrations  from 
certain  sets  of  delegates  on  the  floor  and  visitors  (the  overwhelming 
majority  of  whom  were  anti-Klan  New  Yorkers)  in  the  galleries.*  But 
all  this  was  quite  natural. 

It  was  not  until  the  fifth  day,  when  the  Committee  on  Platform  and 
Resolutions  made  its  report  to  the  delegates,  that  every  Democrat 
knew  for  certain  that  his  convention  was  hopelessly  split  into  two 
camps.  The  chairman  of  the  platform  committee,  Senator  Homer  S. 
Cummings  of  Connecticut,  in  a  manner  that  betrayed  fatigue  and  agi- 
tation, announced  that  the  committee  had  reached  unanimous  agree- 
ment on  all  planks  of  the  platform  except  two  —  one  having  to  do  with 
the  League  of  Nations  and  the  other  with  freedom  of  religion,  speech, 
and  press.  The  debate  on  the  former,  the  convention  was  told,  "though 
prolonged,  was  entirely  amiable,"  while  on  the  latter,  it  continued  "all 
night  long"  becoming  "more  heated"  as  time  went  on,  and  finally 
"somewhat  acrimonious." 

After  all  the  planks  prepared  by  Cummings'  committee  had  been 
read  to  the  delegates,  Permanent  Chairman  Walsh  gave  the  floor  to 


DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS  77 

Newton  D.  Baker  of  Ohio,  Wilson's  Secretary  of  War  from  1916  to 
1921,  who  proceeded  to  offer  a  plank  drawn  up  by  a  minority  of  the 
platform  committee  which  advocated  American  membership  in  the 
League  of  Nations.  When  the  Ohioan  had  finished,  William  H.  Pat- 
tangall,  a  leading  politician  of  Maine,  was  permitted  to  offer  an  amend- 
ment to  the  "Freedom  of  Religion,  Freedom  of  Speech,  Freedom  of 
Press"  plank  which  had  been  endorsed  by  fourteen  of  the  fifty-four 
members  of  the  committee. 

The  minority  proposed  adding  to  the  single-paragraphed  plank 
reaffirming  the  Democratic  party's  "adherence  and  devotion"  to  "those 
cardinal  principles"  in  the  Constitution  regarding  freedom  of  religion, 
speech,  and  press  the  following  two  sentences :  "We  condemn  political 
secret  societies  of  all  lands  as  opposed  to  the  exercise  of  free  govern- 
ment and  contrary  to  the  spirit  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence  and 
of  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States.  We  pledge  the  Democratic 
Party  to  oppose  any  effort  on  the  part  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  or  any 
organization  to  interfere  with  the  religious  liberty  or  political  freedom 
of  any  citizen,  or  to  limit  the  civic  rights  of  any  citizen  or  body  of 
citizens  because  of  religion,  birthplace  or  racial  origin." 

Then  a  duel  took  place  in  the  convention  hall.  This  combat  be- 
tween the  supporters  of  each  plank  on  the  freedom  of  religion,  speech, 
and  press  was  fought  with  the  deadly  weapon  of  words  under  formal 
conditions  of  debate  and  in  the  presence  of  seconds  on  each  side,  the 
latter  being  hundreds  of  hissing,  booing,  laughing,  screaming,  cheer- 
ing, hurrahing,  applauding  delegates  and  visitors.  Nicks  were  suffered; 
blood  was  drawn.  As  first  speaker  for  the  minority  plank,  Pattangall 
believed  that  the  principal  difference  within  the  platform  committee 
arose  from  the  question  of  whether  the  platform  should  be  absolutely 
frank  or  not.  If  it  was  unwise  to  name  the  Klan  it  was  unwise  to  put  in 
the  platform  something  that  meant  the  secret  order.  At  one  point  he 
uttered,  "There  is  more  in  this  matter  than  the  mere  naming  of  a 
secret  organization.  There  has  crept  into  American  life  so  strong  an 
influence  in  certain  States  that  United  States  Senators  told  me  last 
night  that  if  the  Klan  was  opposed  by  them  they  could  not  be  re-elected 
to  their  seats  in  the  Senate." 

Bainbridge  Colby  of  New  York,  Secretary  of  State  under  Wilson,  was 
blunt  as  he  could  be  for  the  minority  report:  "I  am  somewhat  ac- 
customed to  the  cowardice  that  invades  the  issue  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan, 
but  I  confess  to  my  surprise  that,  seated  on  this  platform,  I  am  obliged 
to  witness  the  hardihood  (or  shall  I  say  effrontery?)  of  its  open  defense. 
...  If  you  are  opposed  to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  for  God's  sake,  say  so.  .  .  . 


78  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

I  wish  to  record  my  dissent  as  a  Democrat  to  the  majority  report.  It 
does  not  satisfy  my  thought.  It  does  not  satisfy  my  manhood.  It  is 
no  credit  to  the  Democratic  Party." 

Governor  Cameron  Morrison  of  North  Carolina,  in  support  of  the 
majority  plank,  began  by  defending  the  rights  of  the  individuals  who 
"mistakenly"  belonged  to  the  Klan.  "Are  we,"  he  asked,  "without  trial 
and  without  evidence,  in  a  political  convention  where  only  basic  prin- 
ciples should  be  dealt  with,  to  try,  condemn  and  execute  more  than  a 
million  men  who  are  the  professed  followers  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ?" 
If  the  majority  resolution  were  passed,  the  North  Carolinian  prophesied 
that  "upon  every  stump  upon  which  a  loyal  Democratic  orator  stands 
in  the  coming  campaign  he  will  attack  the  principles  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan,  with  reason,  with  logic,  and  it  will  wipe  it  from  the  face  of  the 
earth,  in  front  of  the  onward  march  of  the  great  Democratic  party." 

Former  Mayor  Andrew  C.  Erwin  of  Athens,  Georgia,  for  the  minori- 
ty, spoke  briefly.  The  convention  could,  he  emphasized,  by  adopting 
the  report  of  the  majority,  evade  the  issue,  but  such  a  course  would, 
in  effect,  mean  giving  its  approval  to  the  activities  of  the  Invisible 
Empire.  Erwin  pointed  out:  "You  hear  on  every  side,  in  the  lobbies 
of  the  hotels,  in  the  halls,  and  upon  the  floor  of  this  Convention,  that 
we  should  take  no  action  relating  to  the  Klan  any  more  than  we  should 
take  action  relating  to  the  Masons  or  Elks  or  any  other  secret  organi- 
zation. I  cannot  bring  myself  to  this  view  of  it;  I  have  not  heard  of 
the  Masons  or  Elks  moving  from  State  Convention  to  State  Convention, 
from  National  Convention  to  National  Convention,  regardless  of  party, 
a  highly  paid  staff  of  officials,  lobbyists  and  spying  investigators,  with 
a  view  of  controlling  the  acts  of  delegates  chosen  to  represent  the 
people  of  this  Country."5 

Toward  the  beginning  of  his  twenty-five  minute  address  in  favor  of 
the  majority  plank,  William  Jennings  Bryan  rapped,  "Note,  my  friends, 
that  they  [endorsers  of  the  minority  plank]  take  our  report,  every  word 
of  it,  and  note  also  that  we  offered  to  take  every  word  of  their  report 
but  three.  We  said,  'Strike  out  three  words  [Ku  Klux  Klan]  and  there 
will  be  no  objection.'  But  three  words  were  more  to  them  than  the 
welfare  of  a  party  in  a  great  campaign."  He  went  on  to  say,  "I  am  not 
willing  to  bring  discord  into  my  party.  The  Democratic  Party  is  united 
on  all  the  economic  issues.  We  have  never  been  so  united  since  I 
have  known  politics.  .  .  .  Now,  when  we  are  all  united  and  all  stand 
with  a  dauntless  courage  and  enthusiasm  never  excelled,  these  people 
tell  us  that  we  must  turn  aside  from  these  things  and  divide  our  party 
with  a  religious  issue  and  cease  to  be  a  great  political  party."    For 


DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS  79 

his  peroration  the  "Peerless  Leader"  chose  the  following  words:  "It 
was  Christ  on  the  Cross  who  said,  'Father,  forgive  them,  for  they  know 
not  what  they  do.'  And,  my  friends,  we  can  exterminate  Ku  Kluxism 
better  by  recognizing  their  honesty  and  teaching  them  that  they  are 
wrong."9 

So  sounded  some  arguments  from  some  speakers.  Then  the  polling 
of  delegates  took  place.  For  the  nearly  two  hours  during  which  it 
occurred  the  convention  was  in  an  uproar.  Chairs  were  overturned. 
State  standards  were  broken.  Fist-fights  were  started.  The  roll  call 
was  interrupted  time  and  again  by  delegates  who  wanted  either  to 
change  their  own  votes  or  to  challenge  the  accuracy  of  the  final  votes  of 
their  states  as  cast  by  their  chairmen.  From  beginning  to  end  the  vot- 
ing was  close.7  The  final  official  tabulation  showed  that  the  entire 
number  of  votes  cast  was  1,083-6/20.  The  number  of  "ayes"  was 
541-3/20;  the  number  of  "noes,"  542-3/20.  Thus,  the  Democratic  na- 
tional convention  rejected  the  inclusion  of  an  anti-Klan  plank  in  its 
platform  for  1924  by  the  narrow  margin  of  one  vote. 

Ultimately  the  platform  as  a  whole  was  adopted  by  a  viva  voce  vote 
of  the  convention.  Among  other  things,  the  document  lashed  out  at 
the  corruption  within  the  government  during  the  Republican  adminis- 
tration under  Harding,  defended  the  income  tax  against  the  Republican 
party's  policy  of  increased  tax  reduction,  advocated  a  lower  tariff,  en- 
dorsed the  limitation  of  armaments,  promised  agricultural  reform, 
proposed  that  a  referendum  be  held  to  decide  the  issue  of  American 
membership  in  the  League  of  Nations,8  and  reaffirmed  the  Democratic 
party's  devotion  to  the  principles  of  freedom  of  religion,  speech,  and 
press. 

When  it  came  to  choosing  a  presidential  nominee,  the  Democratic 
convention  was  once  more  ruptured  by  the  Klan  controversy.  The 
candidate  of  the  anti-Klan  delegates  was  Governor  Alfred  E.  Smith  of 
New  York.  William  McAdoo  of  California,  who  had  achieved  great 
prominence  as  Wilson's  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  during  World  War 
I,  was  the  choice  of  the  pro-Klan  delegates  (and  of  the  Klan  itself), 
although  he  repeatedly  denied  any  affiliation  with  the  secret  order  and 
spoke  out  against  much  of  what  the  organization  believed  in. 

The  balloting  began  on  June  30.  On  the  first  ballot  McAdoo  obtain- 
ed 431^2  votes;  Smith,  241;  former  Governor  James  M.  Cox  of  Ohio,  the 
party's  standard-bearer  in  1920,  received  59  votes;  Pat  Harrison,  43%; 
and  Oscar  W.  Underwood,  42/2.  The  rest  of  the  votes  were  divided 
among  fourteen  favorite  sons.  Soon  the  minor  candidates  dropped 
out,  leaving  the  field  to  McAdoo  and  Smith.    But  as  ballot  after  ballot 


80  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

was  taken,  and  as  day  after  day  passed,  neither  the  Californian  nor 
the  New  Yorker  was  able  to  muster  the  two-thirds  majority  which  the 
Democratic  party  had  for  almost  a  century  ruled  necessary  for  the 
presidential  nomination.  After  the  longest  deadlock  in  the  history  of 
national  political  conventions,  the  delegates  wearily  chose  on  the 
103rd  ballot  John  W.  Davis,  a  New  York  City  corporation  lawyer,  who 
had  during  the  course  of  his  career  served  as  Representative  from  his 
home  state  of  West  Virginia,  Solicitor-General  under  Wilson,  and 
Ambassador  to  Great  Britain.  For  vice-president  the  liberal  Governor 
Charles  W.  Bryan  of  Nebraska,  brother  of  William  Jennings,  was 
nominated. 

That  the  Democratic  national  convention  of  1924  had  been  rent 
asunder  heartened  one  group  of  politicians  —  the  Republicans.  One 
individual  in  the  higher  echelons  of  the  G.O.P.  was  asked  by  a  reporter 
what  he  thought  the  effects  of  the  Madison  Square  Garden  imbroglio 
would  be.  "Well,"  he  smiled,  "the  Democrats  might  have  done  better 
by  us,  of  course.  They  might  have  disbanded  and  gone  home.  But 
short  of  that  they've  done  about  all  they  could  for  Coolidge  and  Dawes." 

Just  as  a  deputation  of  the  Invisible  Empire  had  gone  to  Cleveland 
and  set  up  headquarters  near  the  scene  of  the  Republican  party's  na- 
tional convention,  so  did  one  travel  to  New  York  City  to  do  the  same 
for  the  Democratic  party's.  This  time  the  Imperial  Wizard  was  ac- 
companied by  a  far  greater  number  of  individuals  who  ranked  near 
the  top  of  the  Klan  hierarchy.  In  a  five-room  suite  on  the  fifteenth 
floor  of  the  Hotel  McAlpin,  Evans  conferred  continually  with  a  hand- 
ful of  Grand  Dragons:  Walter  F.  Bossert  of  the  Realm  of  Indiana, 
James  A.  Comer  of  the  Realm  of  Arkansas,  James  Esdale  of  the  Realm 
of  Alabama,  Nathan  Bedford  Forrest  of  the  Realm  of  Georgia,  Fred  L. 
Gifford  of  the  Realm  of  Oregon,  N.  C.  Jewett  of  the  Realm  of  Okla- 
homa, and  Z.  E.  Marvin  of  the  Realm  of  Texas.9 

Upon  arriving  in  New  York,  the  Klan  officials  made  public  their  in- 
tention of  having  a  voice  in  the  choosing  of  the  platform  and  candidates 
by  the  Madison  Square  Garden  convention.  These  leaders  let  it  be 
known  that  if  they  could  prevent  the  Democrats,  as  they  did  the  Re- 
publicans, from  mentioning  the  Klan  by  name  in  the  platform,  they 
would  credit  themselves  with  an  important  victory.  With  the  platform 
adopted,  they  would  turn  to  preventing  the  nomination  of  anyone 
outspokenly  critical  of  their  order. 

Although  the  Klan  leaders  refused  to  divulge  the  exact  number  of 
Knights  sitting  in  the  various  state  delegations,  they  did  assert  that 
in  the  impending  fight  to  prevent  the  adoption  of  an  anti-Klan  plank, 


DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS  81 

the  Invisible  Empire  could  count  on  the  support  of  85  per  cent  of  the 
Georgia  delegation,  80  per  cent  of  the  Arkansas,  Kansas,  and  Texas 
delegations,  75  per  cent  of  the  Mississippi  one,  and  more  than  50  per 
cent  of  the  Iowa,  Kentucky,  Michigan,  Missouri,  Ohio,  Tennessee,  and 
West  Virginia  delegations. 

As  to  those  delegates  occupying  seats  in  the  convention  who  were 
at  the  time  dues-paying  members  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  the  New 
York  World  placed  the  figure  at  approximately  300.  This  newspaper 
also  noted  that  "More  than  one  United  States  Senator  wearing  a  dele- 
gate's badge  is  suspected  of  K.K.K.  membership."  Every  delegation, 
with  perhaps  three  or  four  exceptions,  had  from  two  to  thirty  Klans- 
men  or  pro-Klansmen,  reported  the  Baltimore  Sun  from  one  of  its 
sources.  According  to  the  New  York  Times,  Senator  Earle  B.  Mayfield 
of  Texas,  a  delegate-at-large  from  that  state,  and  Virgil  C.  Pettie,  a 
delegate-at-large  from  Arkansas,  were  said  to  be  serving  along  with 
the  more  than  a  half  dozen  Grand  Dragons  on  the  inner  council  set 
up  by  Evans  to  decide  Klan  strategy  at  the  convention.  Representing 
his  home  state  on  the  Democratic  National  Committee,  Pettie  was  at 
the  same  time  Imperial  Klabee  of  the  Realm  of  Arkansas.  Although  the 
Arkansan  was  the  only  member  of  the  Democratic  National  Committee 
who  admitted  to  belonging  to  the  Invisible  Empire,  it  was  believed 
that  at  least  two  other  national  committeemen  were  Knights.  The 
Klan  was  known  to  have  "representatives"  on  the  Committee  on  Plat- 
form and  Resolutions.  While  it  was  the  New  York  Times  that  took 
refuge  in  the  word  "representatives,"  the  Baltimore  Sun  declared  less 
cautiously  that  Texan  Alva  Bryan  of  the  platform  committee  was  a 
Klansman. 

Soon  after  the  convention  began  its  proceedings,  the  Klan  leaders 
decided  that  the  progress  of  the  fight  against  an  anti-Klan  plank  war- 
ranted calling  in  reserves.  Among  the  first  to  be  contacted  was  W.  A. 
Hanger,  an  attorney  from  Fort  Worth.  (It  was  said  by  those  "in  the 
know"  that  whenever  in  great  trouble  Evans  summoned  him. )  Hanger 
was  the  chief  counsel  for  Mayfield  before  the  Senate  committee  which 
conducted  the  investigation  of  the  charges  of  unlawful  practices  in  the 
election  of  the  Texan  to  the  Upper  House.  When  Hanger  found  it 
impossible  to  heed  the  call  to  New  York  because  of  illness  in  the 
family,  Hollins  N.  Randolph,  chairman  of  the  Georgia  delegation,  and 
Alva  Bryan  acted  in  his  place  to  help  the  Imperial  Wizard. 

With  the  defeat  of  the  anti-Klan  plank,  Evans  and  his  aides  gave 
their  full  attention  to  the  process  of  nominating  the  presidential  can- 
didate.   Knights  were  notified  by  their  leaders  that  if  McAdoo  were 


82  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

unable  to  win  the  nomination,  the  order  would  lend  its  support  for 
that  post  to  an  individual  not  unfriendly  to  the  Invisible  Empire, 
Senator  Samuel  M.  Ralston  of  Indiana.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  right  from 
the  beginning  Ralston  was  more  acceptable  to  some  Klan  officials,  par- 
ticularly Grand  Dragons  Bossert  and  Marvin,  than  was  McAdoo.  To 
their  way  of  thinking,  the  former  Secretary  of  the  Treasury's  chances 
of  being  nominated  were  slim  indeed  because  of  his  having  been  re- 
tained by  oilman  Edward  L.  Doheny,  who  had  benefited  from  the 
fraudulent  leasing  of  governmental  oil  reserves  during  the  Harding 
administration,  and  because  of  the  bitter  hostility  to  him  of  the  pro- 
Smith  East.  Word  of  the  Klan's  eyeing  Ralston  for  standard-bearer 
of  the  Democratic  party  got  around,  and  the  Senator  felt  it  necessary 
to  announce  that  he  was  not  a  member  of  the  secret  fraternity  and  that 
he  challenged  anyone  to  prove  the  contrary.  Ralston's  statement  did 
him  no  political  good;  while  it  did  not  gain  him  the  support  of  any 
important  anti-Klan  politicians,  it  lost  him  the  favor  of  some  influential 
Klansmen. 

With  the  Republican  and  Democratic  national  conventions  being  a 
matter  of  history,  candidates  for  office,  and  party  workers  turned  to 
electioneering.  In  a  campaign  speech  made  at  Sea  Girt,  New  Jersey, 
on  August  22,  Davis  referred  to  the  Klan  in  the  following  manner: 
"If  any  organization,  no  matter  what  it  chooses  to  be  called,  whether 
Ku  Klux  Klan  or  by  any  other  name,  raises  the  standard  of  racial  and 
religious  prejudice  or  attempts  to  make  racial  origins  or  religious 
beliefs  the  test  of  fitness  for  public  office,  it  does  violence  to  the  spirit 
of  American  institutions  and  must  be  condemned.  ..."  After  attack- 
ing the  order,  the  Democratic  candidate  then  expressed  the  hope  that 
Coolidge  would,  "by  some  explicit  declaration,"  do  the  same,  and  thus 
remove  the  Klan  issue  from  the  political  debate.10 

Although  the  Republican  presidential  nominee  completely  ignored 
the  Klan  question  throughout  the  entire  campaign,  his  running  mate 
did  pick  up  the  gauntlet  on  behalf  of  the  party.  In  Augusta,  Maine,  on 
the  day  following  Davis'  Sea  Girt  address,  Dawes  not  only  condemned 
any  American  organization  that  appealed  to  racial  or  religious  pre- 
judice, but  went  on  to  say  that  although  "the  Ku  Klux  Klan  in  many 
localities  and  among  many  people  represents  only  an  instinctive  grop- 
ing for  leadership,  moving  in  the  interest  of  law  enforcement,  ...  it  is 
not  the  right  way  to  forward  law  enforcement." 

Even  before  Davis  and  Dawes  castigated  the  order,  the  standard- 
bearer  of  the  new  Progressive  party,"  the  reform  Senator  Robert  M. 
LaFollette  of  Wisconsin,  in  a  letter  made  public  on  August  8,  had 


DEBUT  IN  NATIONAL  POLITICS  83 

stated:  "I  am  unalterably  opposed  to  the  evident  purpose  of  the 
secret  organization  known  as  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  as  disclosed  by  its 
public  acts."  Thus,  before  the  political  campaign  of  1924  was  half 
over,  the  entire  nation  had  heard  from  Davis,  Dawes,  and  LaFollette 
on  the  Klan. 

In  a  statement  issued  on  August  22,  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  declared 
that  the  strength  of  the.  Invisible  Empire  would  be  thrown  against  the 
candidacy  of  LaFollette.  "LaFollette  is  the  arch-enemy  of  the  nation," 
the  document  read.  "No  man  who  endangered  the  success  of  his  na- 
tion in  time  of  war  is  fit  to  hold  any  office,  much  less  occupy  the  posi- 
tion through  which  the  country  must  stand  or  fall."12  As  to  the  nomi- 
nees of  the  two  major  parties:  "Coolidge  and  Davis  are  nationals  and 
Americans,  aides  of  the  Klan  in  the  attempt  to  'Americanize  America,' 
and  for  this  reason  the  Klan  will  take  no  part  in  the  political  struggle 
as  far  as  they  are  concerned."  Since  this  statement  was  made  public 
on  the  same  day  as,  and  obviously  just  before,  Davis'  Sea  Girt  speech, 
the  Imperial  Wizard  was  compelled  to  revise  very  quickly  his  opinion 
of  the  Democratic  candidate. 

The  Klan  was  not  the  only  organization  to  attack  the  Progressive 
party  candidate  during  the  election  of  1924.  Rather  than  forcefully 
coming  to  grips  with  each  other  on  the  basic  questions  of  the  day,  the 
Republican  and  Democratic  parties  tended,  increasingly  so,  to  direct 
their  efforts  against  LaFollette  and  his  radicalism.  As  the  campaign 
wore  on  the  Klan  issue  was  pretty  much  forgotten,  although  every 
now  and  then  Davis  in  the  midst  of  an  address  was  interrupted  by 
hecklers  demanding  that  he  review  his  position  on  the  secret  fraternity. 

The  election  was  a  Republican  landslide.  Coolidge  captured  the 
electoral  vote'  of  every  state  in  the  East,  Middle  West  ( except  Wiscon- 
sin), and  far  West;  Davis  carried  only  the  "Solid  South"  and  Oklahoma; 
LaFollette  won  the  electoral  vote  of  his  home  state  alone.  In  popular 
votes,  Coolidge  received  15,725,016;  Davis,  8,385,586;  and  LaFollette, 
4,822,856. 

Knights  everywhere,  with  no  small  measure  of  pride,  proclaimed 
their  order  responsible  for  the  desolation  of  the  Madison  Square 
Garden  convention  and  for  the  political  defeat  of  Davis  a  few  months 
later.  Speaking  for  the  Invisible  Empire  as  no  other  individual  could, 
Imperial  Wizard  Evans  asseverated: 

"Our  enemies,  and  some  of  our  friends,  charge  or  credit  us  with  the 
debacle  of  the  .  .  .  Democratic  National  Convention,  and  with  the 
defeat  of  Mr.  Davis  that  followed.  There  is  some  truth  in  the  charge; 
to  be' sure,  the  Klan  was  not  present  as  an  organization  or  with  an 


84  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

organized  force  of  delegates  on  the  floor  of  the  convention,  but  it  was 
present  as  an  intangible  force.  Delegates  were  afraid  of  what  we 
might  do!  Nor  did  we  conduct  any  campaign  against  Mr.  Davis,  but 
his  official  repudiation  of  the  mental  attitude  taken  by  the  Democratic 
platform  in  regard  to  our  organization,  and  his  subsequent  attacks  on 
us.  alienated  hundreds  of  thousands  of  voters  —  and  those  not  alone 
inside  the  ranks  of  the  Klan." 


Chapter  VII 

WAR  AGAINST  AL  SMITH 

On  August  2,  1927,  while  vacationing  in  the  Black  Hills  of  South 
Dakota,  President  Calvin  Coolidge  called  together  a  group  of  reporters 
to  hand  to  each  of  them  a  slip  of  paper  containing  a  dozen  words: 
"I  do  not  choose  to  run  for  President  in  nineteen  twenty  eight."  This 
was  indeed  good  news  to  all  those  members  of  the  G.O.P.  whose  am- 
bition it  was  to  be  the  nation's  Chief  Executive.  One  of  those  aspir- 
ants —  and  by  far  the  most  "available"  —  was  Herbert  Clark  Hoover 
of  California.  After  having  achieved  great  fame  during  World  War 
I  as  Chairman  of  the  Commission  for  Relief  in  Belgium  and  as  United 
States  Food  Administrator,  he  was  appointed  Secretary  of  Commerce 
by  Harding  and  was  then  serving  in  that  capacity  under  Coolidge. 

By  the  time  the  1928  national  convention  of  the  Republican  party 
began  its  proceedings  in  Kansas  City,  Missouri,  which  lasted  from 
June  12  to  15,  Hoover's  nomination  appeared  inevitable.  As  had  been 
expected,  the  Secretary  of  Commerce  captured  the  prize  on  the  very 
first  ballot.  Upon  his  receiving  837  of  the  1,089  votes  cast,  a  motion  to 
make  the  nomination  unanimous  was  easily  carried.  Selected  to  be 
Hoover's  running  mate  was  Charles  Curtis  of  Kansas,  majority  leader 
in  the  Senate. 

As  had  been  the  case  in  the  1924  convention,  the  drafting  and  adopt- 
ing of  the  platform  was  accomplished  with  the  barest  amount  of  con- 
tention. Among  other  things,  the  platform  praised  governmental 
economy  and  tax  reduction,  recommended  a  high  tariff  policy,  declared 
against  American  entry  into  the  League  of  Nations,  and  demanded  full 
enforcement  of  the  Eighteenth  Amendment. 

The  Democratic  national  convention  was  held  in  Houston,  Texas, 
from  June  26  to  29;  it  was  a  quite  different  affair  from  the  long  and 
acrimonious  one  of  four  years  before.  The  dissension  between  the 
southern  and  eastern  wings  of  the  party  still  existed,  but  two  events 
had  taken  place  which  made  for  peaceful  convention  proceedings.  In 
a  letter  to  George  Fort  Milton,  editor  of  the  Chattanooga  News,  made 
public  on  September  17,  1927,  William  G.  McAdoo  had  declared  that 
"in  the  interests  of  party  unity"  he  would  not  seek  the  presidential 
nomination.    Then,  on  September  23,  leaders  of  the  Democracy  from 

85 


86  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

eight  mountain  and  Pacific  coast  states,  the  majority  of  whom  were 
ardent  McAdooites  at  the  Madison  Square  Garden  convention  in  1924, 
had  met  in  Ogden,  Utah,  where  they  endorsed  the  already  booming 
candidacy  of  Alfred  E.  Smith.  Thus  it  was  that  in  1928  the  selection 
of  the  Governor  of  New  York  as  the  party's  nominee  met  with  merely 
token  opposition. 

Contending  for  the  nomination  in  addition  to  Smith  was  just  a 
handful  of  favorite  sons,  including  Senators  James  A.  Reed  of  Missouri 
and  Walter  F.  George  of  Georgia,  and  Representative  Cordell  Hull 
of  Tennessee.  On  the  first  ballot  Smith  received  only  10  votes  fewer 
than  the  two-thirds  majority  necessary  for  the  nomination.  Before 
another  ballot  could  be  taken  Ohio  switched  its  vote  to  the  Governor, 
thus  giving  the  party  its  standard-bearer  for  1928.  For  vice-president 
the  delegates  chose  Joseph  T.  Robinson  of  Arkansas,  permanent  chair- 
man of  the  convention  and  minority  leader  in  the  Senate.  As  a  South- 
erner, Protestant,  and  prohibitionist,  Robinson  balanced  the  ticket. 

In  contrast  to  what  had  taken  place  in  the  1924  Democratic  conven- 
tion, the  platform  was  drafted  and  adopted  in  an  easy  and  quick  man- 
ner. The  document  pledged  the  party  to,  among  other  things,  a  low 
tariff  policy,  agricultural  reform,  international  co-operation  ( there  was 
no  mention  of  the  issue  of  American  membership  in  the  League  of 
Nations),  and  an  "honest"  attempt  to  enforce  the  Eighteenth  Amend- 
ment. 

In  January,  1928,  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  prophesied  that  his  order 
was  going  to  be  more  strongly  represented  in  the  Democratic  party's 
national  convention  of  1928  than  it  had  been  in  the  one  of  four  years 
before.  During  forthcoming  proceedings,  Evans  went  on  to  elaborate, 
all  the  influence  of  the  Invisible  Empire  would  be  directed  toward  an 
effort  to  prevent  Smith's  receiving  the  party's  nomination. 

Just  before  the  opening  session  of  the  Democratic  national  conven- 
tion a  group  of  Klan  officials,  headed  by  Evans,  arrived  in  Houston  to 
set  up  headquarters  at  the  Hotel  Milby.1  The  Imperial  Wizard  author- 
ized a  statement  to  the  press  to  the  effect  that  his  order  was  on  the 
scene  to  fight  for  the  inclusion  in  the  platform  of  a  plank  pledging 
complete  enforcement  of  the  Eighteenth  Amendment,  and  not  to  take 
part  in  the  choosing  of  candidates. 

With  the  adoption  of  the  plank  on  the  enforcement  of  the  Eighteenth 
Amendment,  Evans  and  his  aides  did  participate  in  the  contest  over 
the  selection  of  nominees.  They  attempted  to  halt  the  avalanche  of 
votes  for  Smith,  and  failed.  They  then  tried  to  prevent  the  choosing 
of  Robinson  for  the  vice-presidency,  and  again  failed.2    (It  can  be  as- 


WAR  AGAINST  AL  SMITH  87 

sumed  that  the  Klan  opposed  the  nomination  of  Robinson  because  a 
running  mate  who  was  a  Southerner,  Protestant,  and  prohibitionist 
would  measurably  increase  Smith's  chances  of  being  elected. ) 

With  the  same  audacity  that  he  had  used  in  taking  credit  for  the 
Klan  for  the  defeat  of  Davis  in  the  election  of  1924,  Imperial  Wizard 
Evans  promised  that  the  secret  fraternity  would  bring  failure  to 
the  standard-bearer  of  the  Democratic  party  in  1928  should  Smith  be 
given  the  nomination.  In  order  to  make  good  the  threat  of  the  Im- 
perial Wizard,  the  Klan  as  an  active  participant  in  the  presidential 
campaign  of  1928  employed  a  variety  of  methods  and  techniques.  In 
the  first  week  of  July  the  local  Klan  in  Wahouma,  Alabama,  a  hamlet 
not  far  from  Birmingham,  held  an  anti-Smith  demonstration  to  which 
the  townspeople  were  invited.  The  high  light  of  the  evening  was  the 
hanging  of  the  New  Yorker  in  effigy.  Before  being  strung  up,  the  man 
of  straw  had  a  knife  plunged  into  his  throat,  mercurochrome  poured 
over  him  to  heighten  the  effect  of  the  "assassination,"  received  a  shot 
or  two  in  the  middle,  and  was  dragged  around  the  hall  to  receive  vigor- 
ous kicks  from  vengeful  Knights.  After  the  "lynching,"  the  more  than 
200  individuals  in  attendance  listened  to  speeches  by  leaders  of  the 
local  Klan  denouncing  the  "steam  roller"  tactics  at  the  Houston  con- 
vention. 

In  a  letter  sent  out  to  every  local  Klan  under  his  jurisdiction,  Amos 
C.  Duncan,  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  North  Carolina,  requested 
that  a  fund  of  at  least  $8,000  be  raised  to  fight  Smith  in  the  Tar  Heel 
State.  Before  making  the  actual  appeal  for  the  money,  Duncan  care- 
fully explained  why  it  was  needed:  "I  am  immediately  putting  five 
more  whirlwind  campaign  speakers  on  tour  in  this  State,  using  them 
seven  days  per  week  until  November  6th  [election  day].  I  am  having 
prepared  literally  tons  of  powerful  campaign  literature  which  you 
Klansmen  must  distribute  during  the  final  phases  of  this  crusade  to 
every  voter  in  North  Carolina.  My  office  will  function  24  hours  per 
day  until  victory  is  won."8 

Duncan's  counterpart  in  Georgia  also  found  it  necessary  to  resort 
to  an  appeal  for  a  campaign  chest  to  defeat  Smith  in  his  race  for  the 
presidency.  Grand  Dragon  Nathan  Bedford  Forrest  contacted  every 
Knight  in  the  Empire  State  of  the  South,  requesting  from  each  a  con- 
tribution of  anything  from  $.50  to  $5,000. 

On  a  ten-acre  plot  in  Virginia,  stiuated  but  a  few  miles  from  the 
nation's  capital,  stood  a  huge  electric  sign  announcing  the  support  of 
the  Klan  of  that  state  for  the  Republican  candidate.    Owned  by  the 


88  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

secret  order,  this  tract  of  land  was  used  throughout  the  campaign  for 
Hoover  rallies  of  Arlington  and  Fairfax  counties. 

Less  than  a  week  before  election  day  the  local  Klan  in  Miami, 
Florida,  condemned  five  of  its  members  for  lending  support  to  Smith's 
campaign.  The  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  chapter  went  so  far  as  to  call 
upon  the  most  prominent  Knight  of  the  five,  Louis  C.  Allen,  a  former 
sheriff  of  Dade  County,  to  stand  trial  before  the  order  for  his  "major 
offense." 

The  Klan  during  this  presidential  race  undertook  the  distribution 
of  a  body  of  political  writings;  all  of  it,  or  practically  so,  was  simply 
anti-Smith  literature.  Each  of  the  writings  can  be  put  into  one  of 
four  categories,  according  to  the  basis  for  its  attack  on  the  New  Yorker: 
(1)  his  Catholicism;  (2)  his  being  a  "wet";  (3)  his  Tammany  con- 
nections; and  (4)  his  so-called  "alienism." 

Of  the  total  sum  of  anti-Smith  campaign  literature  disseminated  by 
the  Klan,  the  largest  —  and  most  intemperate  —  portion  had  to  do 
with  the  Governor's  religious  background.  Smith  as  President  would 
"no  doubt  fill  every  key  position  in  the  Republic  with  Roman  Catholics 
.  .  .  [and]  no  doubt  leave  the  Army  and  Navy  in  the  hands  of  Rome," 
the  September  5,  1928,  issue  of  the  Official  Monthly  Bulletin  of  the 
Realm  of  Mississippi  prophesied  uneasily.  In  her  book,  Klansmen: 
Guardians  of  Liberty,  which  although  written  in  1926,  enjoyed  a  wide 
circulation  among  Knights  during  the  1928  presidential  race,  "Klans- 
woman"  Alma  Birdwell  White  went  a  step  further:  if  Smith  ever 
occupied  the  White  House  he  would  so  "manipulate  the  reins  of 
government  in  behalf  of  the  Roman  Pontiff"  that  "Free  speech,  free 
press,  free  public  schools  .  .  .  would  soon  be  things  of  the  past." 

From  the  writings  distributed  by  the  order  attacking  the  New  Yorker 
on  the  other  three  counts,  only  a  few  excerpts  need  be  brought  forward 
to  convey  adequately  the  flavor  of  the  assault.  Regarding  Smith's  anti- 
prohibitionism,  one  issue  of  The  Kourier  Magazine,  a  monthly  Klan 
periodical  published  in  Atlanta,  Georgia,  contended  that  "the  liquor 
interests  and  the  private  citizens  who  are  Vet  in  principle  and  in 
practice'  .  .  .  seek  to  overturn  American  law  and  to  destroy  the  Ameri- 
can Constitution.    Gov.  Smith  has  made  himself  their  leader.  .  .  ." 

As  to  Smith's  affiliation  with  Tammany,  in  another  issue  of  The 
Kourier  Magazine  there  appeared  the  following:  "It  is  impossible  to 
conceive  that  any  of  the  great  Democratic  leaders  of  the  past  would 
consent  to  support  such  a  man.  Tilden,  Cleveland,  Bryan,  Wilson  — 
all  these  men  denounced  and  fought  Tammany  Hall.  There  is  no 
doubt  that  Jefferson  and  Jackson  would  have  done  the  same  if  it  had 


WAR  AGAINST  AL  SMITH  89 

been  what  it  is  today.  It  is  unthinkable  that  such  men  as  these  should 
accept  the  leadership  of  a  man  who  boasts  of  his  membership  in  an 
organization  that  has  stood  for  graft,  corruption,  [and]  alliance  with 
crime.  ..." 

Concerning  Smith's  "alienism,"  the  pro-Klan  newspaper,  the  Wash- 
ington, D.C.  Fellowship  Forum,  said  to  its  readers:  "Mr.  Smith 
represents  a  body  of  voters  who  do  not  believe  in  .  .  .  American  prin- 
ciples and  traditions;  who  wish  another  and  a  different  set  of  ideas  to 
become  dominant  in  the  nation.  These  un-American  ideas  go  under 
the  general  title  of  alienism.  Smith  represents  the  attempt  of  alienism 
to  win  control  of  America." 

A  startling  aspect  of  the  battle  for  the  White  House  in  1928  was  the 
rabid  attack  upon  Smith  by  a  fellow  Democrat  —  Senator  J.  Thomas 
Heflin  of  Alabama.4  Addressing  a  gathering  of  nearly  10,000  Knights 
just  outside  Syracuse,  New  York,  on  June  16,  1928,  Heflin  vowed  that 
he  would  do  all  in  his  power  to  prevent  the  Governor's  receiving  the 
nomination  of  the  Democratic  party  in  its  forthcoming  national  con- 
vention, for  he  did  not  want  to  see  the  presidency  of  the  United  States 
"becoming  the  tail  to  the  Roman  Catholic  late."  Speaking  at  an  open- 
air  meeting  of  the  Klan  in  the  outskirts  of  Albany,  New  York,  on  the 
following  day,  the  Senator  asserted  that  it  should  be  clear  to  everyone 
Smith  must  be  denied  the  highest  office  in  the  land  because  he  was 
a  Catholic,  a  "soaking  wet,"  and  a  Tammanyite. 

Just  three  days  before  the  Democratic  convention  began  its  proceed- 
ings, Heflin  announced  that  he  would  remain  silent  throughout  the 
campaign  if  the  Governor  of  New  York  were  nominated.  But  he  failed 
to  keep  his  promise.  In  the  months  that  followed  the  Senator  ap- 
peared before  groups  of  Klansmen  —  in  Ohio,  in  Illinois,  in  New 
Jersey,  in  New  York,  in  Kentucky,  in  Pennsylvania  —  to  embolden 
them  in  their  opposition  to  Smith's  candidacy. 

During  the  course  of  the  presidential  race  the  question  naturally 
arose  of  whether  Heflin  was  a  Knight.  In  September  of  the  preceding 
year,  in  an  address  to  the  Lions  Club  of  Mobile,  C.  M.  Rogers,  an 
Alabama  state  legislator,  had  assailed  Heflin  as  a  member  in  good 
standing  of  the  Invisible  Empire.  That  Rogers  had  been  unable  to 
substantiate  his  charge  was  of  no  import  to  the  many  millions  of  Ameri- 
cans who  must  have  cared  little  about  the  distinction  between  Heflin's 
being  actually  a  member  of  the  Klan  and  his  being  merely  an  exponent 
of  its  tenets  on  the  Senate  floor  and  lecture  platform.  The  issue  of 
Heflin's  alleged  Knighthood  was  finally  settled,  but  not  until  1937, 


90  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

when  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  told  the  press  that  in  the  late  1920's  the 
Senator  had  indeed  joined  the  secret  order. 

Smith  did  not  take  these  blows  from  the  Klan  without  striking  back. 
In  an  aggressive  stumping  of  the  nation,  he  scored  the  fraternity  for 
the  tactics  it  was  using  against  him  in  the  campaign.  Addressing  a 
group  on  September  20,  in  Oklahoma  City,  Oklahoma,  where  Klanism 
was  still  so  deep-rooted  and  anti-Catholicism  so  widespread  that  his 
personal  safety  was  a  concern,  the  Democratic  candidate  mentioned 
that  the  following  incident  had  recently  come  to  light:  The  Grand 
Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Arkansas,  in  a  letter  to  a  citizen  of  that  state, 
had  urged  Smith's  defeat  because  of  his  religious  faith,  suggesting  to 
the  man  that  by  voting  against  the  Governor  he  would  be  upholding 
American  ideals  and  institutions  as  established  by  the  Founding  Fa- 
thers. As  to  that  kind  of  politicking,  Smith  concluded,  "Nothing  could 
be  so  out  of  line  with  the  spirit  of  America.  Nothing  could  be  so 
foreign  to  the  teachings  of  Jefferson.  Nothing  could  be  so  contradic- 
tory to  our  whole  history."  A  month  later,  on  October  29,  in  Baltimore, 
Maryland,  the  New  Yorker  told  with  emotion  the  following  to  his 
audience: 

"Recently  I  made  a  trip  to  the  State  of  Indiana.  I  went  there  not 
only  as  the  candidate  of  the  oldest  political  party  in  the  country  but  as 
the  Governor  of  a  sister  Commonwealth.  As  we  were  passing  along 
in  the  train  I  saw  in  the  darkness  by  the  side  of  the  track  a  blazing 
cross,  and  one  of  the  men  in  charge  of  the  train  told  me  that  that  was 
symbolic  of  the  Klan's  defiance  of  me. 

"There  is  a  fine  state  of  affairs  in  this  twentieth  century,  with  all  of 
our  education  and  all  of  our  culture.  What  excites  in  me  the  most  of 
my  rage  is  the  hollow  mockery  of  it  —  to  raise  between  heaven  and 
earth  the  emblem  of  Christianity  as  a  defiance  to  a  fellow-citizen,  the 
Executive  of  a  great  State. 

"So  far  as  I  am  concerned,  I  would  sooner  go  down  to  ignominious 
defeat  than  to  be  elected  to  any  office  in  this  country  if  to  accomplish 
it  I  had  to  have  the  support  of  any  group  with  such  perverted  ideas  of 
Americanism." 

Compared  with  the  energetic  campaign  staged  by  Smith,  the  one 
conducted  by  the  Republican  candidate  was  rather  easy-going.  Not 
once  did  Hoover  make  express  reference  to  the  issue  of  the  Klan's 
participation  in  the  presidential  race.  He  did  feel  compelled,  however, 
to  object  to  the  attacks  made  upon  Smith  on  religious  grounds.  In 
his  speech  accepting  the  nomination,  delivered  at  Stanford  University, 


WAR  AGAINST  AL  SMITH  91 

Hoover  uttered,  "By  blood  and  conviction  I  stand  for  religious  toler- 
ance both  in  act  and  in  spirit." 

As  had  been  so  in  1924,  the  election  was  a  Republican  landslide. 
Hoover  won  the  electoral  vote  of  forty  states,  including  his  opponent's 
home  state  of  New  York,  and  five  states  —  Virginia,  Tennessee,  North 
Carolina,  Florida,  and  Texas  —  of  the  half -century  old  "Solid  South." 
In  popular  votes,  Hoover  received  21,392,190  to  Smith's  15,016,443. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  find  the  reasons  for  the  outcome  of  the  election. 
To  the  negative  factors  involved  in  the  defeat  of  the  Democratic 
nominee  —  the  opposition  to  Smith  because  of  his  religion,  his  anti- 
prohibitionism,  his  Tammany  connections,  and  his  "alienism"  —  must 
be  added  the  positive  one  of  the  belief  on  the  part  of  many  Americans 
that  the  general  prosperity  of  the  times  was  dependent  upon  continued 
Republican  rule.6 

'It  is  difficult  to  assess  the  effect  that  the  activity  of  the  Klan  had  upon 
the  outcome  of  the  election,  for  there  were  other  influential  organiza- 
tions as  well  as  prominent  religious  figures  and  bolting  Democratic 
leaders  attacking  Smith  for  one  or  more  of  the  same  reasons  as  were 
given  by  the  secret  order  for  its  opposition  to  the  standard-bearer  of 
the  Democratic  party.  Actively  participating  in  the  attempt  to  swing 
certain  of  the  traditionally  Democratic  states  to  Hoover  were,  for 
example,  such  organizations  as  the  Anti-Saloon  League  and  the  Wom- 
an's Christian  Temperance  Union  and  such  individuals  as  Bishop 
James  Cannon,  Jr.,  of  the  Methodist  Episcopal  Church  South;  Dr. 
Hugh  K.  Walker,  Moderator  of  the  General  Assembly  of  the  Presby- 
terian Church;  Dr.  John  Roach  Straton  of  New  York's  Calvary  Baptist 
Church;  former  Senator  Robert  L.  Owen  of  Oklahoma;  and  Senator 
Furnifold  McLendel  Simmons  of  North  Carolina. 

And  what  is  most  difficult  to  determine  is  how  an  order  that  had 
recently  been  censured  by  the  American  public  for  its  excesses,  an 
order  that  had  recently  lost  its  formidable  political  potency,  an  order 
that  had  recently  experienced  a  drop  in  membership  from  over 
4,000,000  to  a  few  hundred  thousand,  in  short,  an  order  that  was  about 
to  collapse,  could  possibly  play  a  decisive  role  in  the  presidential 
election  of  1928.  If  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan 
was  indeed  a  major  factor  in  the  desertion  of  almost  half  the  "Solid 
South"  to  the  Republican  candidate,  then  it  was  not  the  substance  but 
the  spirit  of  the  secret  fraternity  —  that  nebulous  and  elusive  quality 
—  that  made  it  so. 


Chapter  VIII 

DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE 

At  the  end  of  1928  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  did  not  expire;  it  merely  laid 
itself  down  to  recover  from  two  blows:  a  sharp  loss  of  membership  as 
a  result  of  popular  disrepute  at  the  height  of  its  career,  and  exhaustion 
of  its  rapidly  diminishing  energies  in  its  opposition  to  Alfred  E.  Smith's 
bid  for  the  presidency.  The  Klan  was  never  to  regain  the  numerical 
strength  or  influence  it  had  before  1928. 

Interestingly  enough,  it  was  the  Klansmen  outside  the  borders  of 
Dixie  who  during  the  1930's  tried  to  keep  the  fraternity  from  perishing. 
Throughout  the  decade  of  depression  Knights  in  the  North  preserved 
ritual  and  customs  via  colorful  ceremonies  in  lonely  fields,  blazing 
crosses  on  mountain  tops,  and  grim  parades. 

In  September,  1930,  in  Peekskill,  New  York,  in  the  southeastern 
part  of  the  state,  a  field  day  was  attended  by  500  hooded  and  robed 
Klansmen  from  New  York,  New  Jersey,  Massachusetts,  and  Pennsyl- 
vania. Activities  included  a  military  drill,  fireworks,  and  the  burning 
of  a  great  "K"  on  a  nearby  hillside.  The  following  July  another  field 
day  was  held  in  the  same  town.  Highlighting  this  affair  was  an  ad- 
dress by  the  Grand  Klokard  of  the  Realm  of  New  York,  M.  D.  L. 
Van  Over. 

A  thousand  members  of  the  Klan,  about  one-fourth  of  them  in 
regalia,  gathered  just  outside  of  Somerville,  New  Jersey,  in  1933,  to 
participate  in  an  Easter  sunrise  service  in  the  glow  of  a  fiery  cross. 
Two  years  later,  again  near  Somerville,  1,000  Knights  assembled  for 
the  same  purpose. 

Members  of  the  order  held  a  three-day  outdoor  convention  in  Peek- 
skill  in  September,  1936.  In  their  first  public  appearance  in  that  area 
in  five  years,  the  hooded  and  robed  Klansmen  conducted  an  initiation 
ceremony,  participated  in  athletic  contests,  listened  to  speeches  by 
their  leaders,  and  set  fire  to  a  cross  twenty  feet  high. 

On  the  evening  of  October  1,  1937,  the  newest  appointee  to  the 
Supreme  Court,  former  Senator  Hugo  L.  Black  of  Alabama,  made 
a  radio  address  to  the  nation  in  order  to  reply  to  charges  levelled 
against  him  of  membership  in  the  Klan.  This  touched  off  a  spate 
of  fiery  crosses  in  the  North.    In  Worcester,  Massachusetts;  in  Marl- 

92 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  93 

boro,  fifteen  miles  to  the  northeast;  in  Hyde  Park,  New  York,  near 
President  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt's  estate;  in  Mountain  Lakes,  New 
Jersey,  not  too  far  from  Newark,  the  night  was  momentarily  ablaze 
with  that  symbol  which  was  everywhere  and  immediately  associated 
with  the  secret  order.  It  should  be  noted  that  in  each  of  these  areas 
it  was  generally  believed  that  the  local  Klan  had  already  been  dis- 
solved. Consequently,  the  crosses  could  have  been  burned  by  in- 
dividuals not  belonging  to  the  fraternity.  However,  the  setting  fire  to  a 
cross  in  the  resort  town  of  Mattituck,  Long  Island,  in  the  summer  of 
1939,  undoubtedly  was  the  work  of  Klansmen;  near  the  particular 
cross  was  a  sign  that  meant  business:  "Jews  are  not  wanted  in  Mat- 
tituck —  K.K.K." 

As  for  parading,  Knights  in  regalia  filed,  for  example,  down  the 
streets  of  Freeport,  Long  Island,  in  July,  1930;  nearby  Valley  Stream, 
in  September,  1931;  Freeport  again,  in  September,  1933.  Sometimes 
the  desire  to  march  went  unfulfilled  because  of  opposition  from 
community  officials.  In  May,  1930,  Klansmen  from  three  counties  in 
southeastern  New  York  —  Westchester,  Putnam,  and  Rockland  —  filed 
application  with  the  Board  of  Trustees  of  Mt.  Kisco  for  permission  to 
take  part  in  the  town's  Memorial  Day  Parade.  The  board  handed 
down  a  negative  decision  after  the  Memorial  Day  Committee  along 
with  twelve  civic  and  fraternal  organizations  in  the  area  requested 
that  the  Klan  be  barred  from  taking  part  in  the  march.  In  the  fall  of 
1937  Kleagle  William  E.  Cahill,  after  calling  upon  the  city  manager 
of  Toledo,  Ohio,  in  regard  to  a  proposed  tri-state  parade  of  the  Klan 
in  that  city,  was  told  promptly  that  under  no  circumstances  would  a 
permit  be  issued  for  a  parade  of  hooded  and  robed  persons. 
I  As  in  the  1920's,  the  practice  of  physically  disciplining  a  wrongdoer 
( either  real  or  imagined )  was  more  prevalent  among  the  Klansmen  of 
the  South  than  among  those  of  other  sections  of  the  country.  Fol- 
lowing are  some  illustrations  of  the  secret  order's  participation  in 
"night-riding."  In  March,  1935,  the  manager  of  a  hotel  in  St.  Peters- 
burg, Florida,  Robert  M.  Cargell,  was  seized  by  five  men,  one  of 
whom  was  the  local  Kleagle,  and  driven  to  a  deserted  spot,  where 
he  was  horribly  mutilated  with  a  knife.  In  November,  1937,  about 
175  hooded  and  robed  Klansmen  swooped  down  on  the  La  Paloma 
night  club  in  Miami,  Florida,  where  they  struck  entertainers  and 
waiters,  smashed  furniture,  compelled  patrons  to  leave,  and  ordered 
the  place  closed.  In  the  summer  of  1939  two  residents  of  suburban 
Atlanta,  Georgia,  were  taken  to  a  garbage  dump  where  they  were 
beaten  for  "immorality."    That  fall,  in  nearby  Decatur,  a  white  pro- 


94  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

prietor  of  a  movie  theater  for  Negroes  was  flogged  by  the  local  Klan 
because  it  did  not  like  his  business  operation.  During  the  Christmas 
season  of  1939  a  garage  mechanic  was  dragged  from  his  home  in 
Anderson,  South  Carolina,  in  the  middle  of  the  night  and  mercilessly 
whipped  because,  his  abductors  said,  he  had  slapped  a  child.  On 
March  2,  1940,  a  young  man  and  girl  from  Atlanta,  who  were  alleged 
to  have  been  violating  the  local  Klan's  conception  of  sexual  morality, 
were  found  beaten  to  death  in  a  parked  car  in  a  local  lovers'  lane. 
Less  than  a  week  later  another  resident  of  the  city,  a  barber  by  the 
name  of  Ike  Gaston,  was  visited  by  hooded  men  who  killed  him  with 
a  long  cleated  belt  that  was  subsequently  proved  to  have  been  made 
by  an  avowed  Klansman. 

Two  conclusions  that  have  been  presented  previously  in  this  study 
regarding  Klan  violence  bear  restating  at  this  point.  Since  the  individ- 
uals committing  the  outrages  were  hidden  behind  Klan  regalia,  they 
could  just  as  easily  have  not  been  members  of  the  secret  fraternity; 
if  the  men  who  engaged  in  these  offenses  were  Klansmen,  they  could 
have  been  taking  action  without  first  obtaining  the  consent  of  the 
local  chapter  as  a  whole. 

fThe  activities  engaged  in  by  the  Klan  during  the  1930's,  such  as 
conducting  a  ritual  in  a  field  outside  of  town,  setting  a  huge  cross 
ablaze,  parading  silently  down  the  street,  or  taking  punitive  measures 
against  wrongdoers  could  never  check  the  longing  of  Knights  to  see 
their  fraternity  become  once  again  a  conspicuous  power  in  American 
politics.    The  longing  was  never  to  be  satisfied. 

This  does  not  mean,  however,  that  in  the  years  after  1928  the  Klan 
never  popped  up  in  a  political  setting.  ;  Alabama  is  a  good  case  in 
point.  With  his  rabid  attacks  upon  Alfred  E.  Smith  before  groups  of 
Klansmen  during  the  1928  presidential  campaign,  Senator  J.  Thomas 
Heflin  influenced  120,000  of  the  state's  traditionally  Democratic  voters 
to  cast  their  ballots  for  Herbert  Hoover  in  November.1  Only  because 
of  exhaustive  toil  on  the  part  of  Alabama's  Democratic  party  organiza- 
tion was  Smith  able  to  carry  this  commonwealth  of  the  "Solid  South" 
— and  by  merely  7,000  votes.  Heflin's  term  was  to  expire  in  1931. 
When  he  announced  his  intention  of  entering  the  1930  Democratic  sen- 
atorial primary,  the  party  avenged  itself.  The  State  Democratic  Com- 
mittee decreed  that  only  candidates  who  had  actively  supported  Smith 
in  the  election  of  1928  could  run  on  the  Democratic  ticket.  Because 
he  was  barred  from  the  primary,  Heflin  hoped  to  discomfit  the  party. 
In  order  to  accomplish  this,  he  accepted  both  Klan  and  Republican 
aid.    An  alliance  of  the  bolting  Heflin,  the  by  then  discredited  Knights, 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  95 

and  the  loathed  Republicans  could  do  no  other  than  to  consolidate 
the  Democratic  party.  John  H.  Bankhead,  a  corporation  lawyer  and 
coal  mine  operator,  won  the  race  for  the  Democratic  nomination  for 
the  senatorship.  In  Alabama  this  was,  of  course,  tantamount  to  victory 
in  the  general  election  to  follow. 

When  Hugo  L.  Black  vacated  his  legislative  seat  in  1937  to  settle 
down  on  the  judicial  bench,  Heflin  struggled  to  occupy  the  former. 
In  the  special  Democratic  senatorial  primary  held  on  January  4,  1938, 
Lister  Hill,  Representative  from  the  Second  Congressional  District  of 
Alabama,  defeated  Heflin,  who  had  been  permitted  once  again  to  run  on 
the  ticket,  by  polling  almost  twice  as  many  votes.  The  New  York  Times 
reflected  the  viewpoint  of  most  newspapers  when  it  wrote  of  this 
nearly  two-to-one  victory  as  follows:  "Although  the  principles  and 
loyalties  for  which  Mr.  Hill  stood  and  his  own  personal  effectiveness  as 
a  public  man  may  be  credited  with  the  bulk  of  the  support  given  him, 
the  decisive  factor  in  his  victory  was  obviously  Heflinism,  an  unwilling- 
ness on  the  part  of  many  voters  to  identify  themselves  or  their  State 
again  with  the  racial  and  religious  hatred  and  the  Ku  Kluxery  for  which 
former  Senator  Heflin  .  .  .  stands  in  national  sight."  Heflin's  down- 
fall Was  complete;  he  was  never  again  to  hold  public  office. 

As  for  the  Upper  South,  in  the  Maryland  state  election  of  1938  the 
religious  issue  played  an  important  part.  The  voters  were  swamped 
with  anonymous  letters  attacking  the  Catholicism  of  the  three  top 
candidates  on  the  Democratic  ticket,  including  Attorney-General 
Herbert  R.  O'Conor,  who  was  running  for  the  governorship.  Widely 
circulated  was  The  American  Protestant,  a  newspaper  published  in 
Washington,  D.  C,  containing  appeals  to  vote  against  the  Catholic 
office-seekers.  The  journal  also  declared  frantically  that  out  of  forty- 
two  candidates  in  the  city  of  Baltimore  for  the  state  Senate  and  House 
of  Delegates,  more  than  three-fourths  were  Catholics.  In  1928  the 
Klan  in  Maryland  had  actively  opposed  Alfred  E.  Smith's  presidential 
candidacy.  It  was  believed  by  numerous  observers  ten  years  later  that 
the  secret  order  was  just  as  involved  in  politics  in  1938,  for  the  anti- 
Catholic  campaign  literature  that  was  being  circulated  in  that  year 
was  more  than  coincidentally  similar  to  that  issued  by  the  Klan  in 
Maryland  in  the  past. 

In  New  York  City  one  of  those  entered  in  the  September,  1938,  open 
primary  in  Kings  County,  which  is  coextensive  with  the  Borough  of 
Brooklyn,  was  Louis  Waldman.  As  the  American  Labor  party  candi- 
date for  a  judgeship,  Waldman  announced  that  the  Klan  had  flooded 
the  area  with  appeals  to  the  people  to  vote  against  him.    Seeking  office 


96  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

in  a  political  district  having  an  electorate  composed  quite  largely  of 
Jews,  Catholics,  Negroes,  and  the  foreign-born,  Waldman  attempted 
to  make  the  most  of  the  hostility  of  the  Klan,  a  hostility  which, 
of  course,  could  not  have  been  damaging  in  a  place  such  as  Brooklyn. 
"I  welcome  the  opposition  of  the  K.K.K.,"  he  said.  "Their  Americanism 
isn't  mine,  and  my  principles  and  ideals  are  not  theirs."  Waldman 
was,  however,  not  victorious  in  the  primary. 

During  the  1920's  a  great  number  of  officeholders,  in  both  the  North 
and  the  South,  either  allied  themselves,  or  flirted,  with  the  Klan.  In 
the  1930's  few  public  officials  dared  to  be  friendly  toward  the  order. 
Three  southern  states— South  Carolina,  Georgia,  and  Florida— composed 
a  contiguous  territory  in  which  this  was  not  the  case.  By  1939,  for 
example:  in  Greenville,  South  Carolina,  nearly  every  member  of  the 
police  force  was  conceded  to  be  a  Klansman;  the  acting  sheriff  of 
Anderson  County,  South  Carolina,  which  is  situated  in  the  northwestern 
part  of  the  state,  was  an  avowed  Knight;  three  deputy  sheriffs  of 
Fulton  County,  Georgia,  admitted  to  membership  in  the  secret  frater- 
nity; in  Orlando,  Florida,  Klan  parades  were  frequently  honored  by  an 
escort  of  police;  in  Tampa  and  Miami,  city  officials,  both  elected  and 
appointed,  were  on  intimate  terms  with  representatives  of  the  order. 

In  the  decade  and  a  half  following  1928  there  kept  cropping  up 
against  well-known  political  figures  accusations  of  former  Klan  affilia- 
tion. In  each  instance  the  secret  order  itself  played  a  quite  passive 
role.  The  most  celebrated  case  is  the  one  that  "broke"  in  1937.  On 
August  12  of  that  year,  a  message  from  President  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt 
was  delivered  to  the  Senate.  It  read:  "I  nominate  [Senator]  Hugo  L. 
Black  of  Alabama  to  be  an  Associate  Justice  of  the  Supreme  Court  of 
the  United  States."  To  a  request  made  for  unanimous  consent  to 
consider  the  message  at  once,  there  was  objection,  shattering  a  custom 
of  the  Upper  House  to  confirm  without  reference  to  committee  the 
nomination  of  any  of  its  members  to  any  office.  A  hearing  had  to  be 
held;  Black  was,  in  the  end,  approved  by  the  Senate.  On  October  4, 
the  Alabaman  took  his  place  on  the  bench.  His  first  official  act  as  an 
Associate  Justice  was  to  hear  motions  contesting  his  right  to  the  office. 
Demands  were  made  that  the  House  of  Representatives  impeach 
Justice  Black  and  that  the  Senate  try  and  convict  him.  All  this  over 
current  rumors  linking  Black  with  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan. 

The  full  case  against  Black  was  not  made  known  until  after  the 
Senate  had  confirmed  his  nomination.  The  facts  were  set  forth  in  a 
series  of  six  articles  written  by  Ray  Sprigle  and  published  in  the 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  97 

Pittsburgh  Post-Gazette  beginning  September  13,  1937 .2  Using  as  evi- 
dence attestations  by  affidavit  of  former  Knights  who  were  witnesses 
to  certain  Klan  functions,  photostatic  reproductions  of  official  and 
hitherto  secret  Klan  records,  and  stenographic  notes  taken  by  A.  B. 
Hale,  a  then  official  reporter  of  the  order,  Sprigle  related  the  following 
regarding  the  newly-appointed  Justice:  He  had  joined  the  Robert  E. 
Lee  Klan  No.  1,  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  in 
Birmingham  on  September  11, 1923.  On  July  9, 1925,  before  beginning 
his  race  for  the  Democratic  nomination  for  the  United  States  senator- 
ship,  he  formally  resigned  from  the  order  upon  the  suggestion  of  Klan 
officials,  so  that  he  could  campaign  with  all  the  advantages  of  Klan 
support  but  without  any  of  the  disadvantages  of  having  to  admit  to 
Klan  membership  if  challenged  on  that  score  during  the  1926  primary. 
On  September  2,  1926,  after  gaining  the  nomination,8  which  is  tanta- 
mount to  winning  the  election  in  Democratic  Alabama,  Black  was 
welcomed  back  to  the  secret  fraternity  at  a  "Klorero"  (state  meeting) 
in  Birmingham,  at  which  time  he  received  a  gold  "grand  passport" 
(life  membership  card)  in  the  Klan. 

In  attendance  at  the  Klorero  were  about  2,000  Knights,  including 
Imperial  Wizard  Evans,  Grand  Dragon  James  Esdale  of  the  Realm  of 
Alabama,  Great  Titans  from  three  Provinces,  and  Exalted  Cyclopses 
from  fifty  local  Klans.  After  some  minutes  of  good-humored  allusions 
by  Klan  officials  to  Black's  success  in  the  recently  held  primary,  the 
Senator-nominate  was  brought  to  the  speaker's  stand  amid  great  ap- 
plause to  be  given  the  gold-engraved  certificate  of  life  membership  in 
the  secret  fraternity.  In  his  speech  accepting  the  grand  passport,  Black 
expressed  his  full  sympathy  with  the  principles  of  the  Klan,  and  asked 
for  the  counsel  of  the  organization  when  he  assumed  his  new  political 
post.  As  to  his  winning  the  senatorial  nomination,  he  attributed  it  to 
Klan  backing.  "I  do  not  feel  that  it  would  be  out  of  place  to  state  to 
you  here  on  this  occasion  that  I  know  that  without  the  support  of  the 
members  of  this  organization  I  would  have  not  been  called ...  [as  so 
introduced]  the  'Junior  Senator  from  Alabama.' " 

Two  and  a  half  weeks  after  the  initial  Sprigle  article  appeared  Black 
made  his  first  and  only  comment  on  the  charge  levelled  against  him 
of  Klan  affiliation.  On  the  evening  of  October  1,  1937,  he  delivered  a 
short  address  over  the  radio,  in  which  he  said: 

"...  I  joined  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  about  fifteen  years  ago ...  I  later 
resigned.  I  never  re-joined.  What  appeared  then  or  what  appears  now 
on  the  records  of  the  organization  I  do  not  know. 

"I  never  have  considered  and  I  do  not  now  consider  the  unsolicited 


98  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

card  given  to  me  shortly  after  my  nomination  to  the  Senate  as  a  mem- 
bership of  any  kind  in  the  Ku  Klux  Klan.  I  never  used  it.  I  did  not 
even  keep  it." 

When  the  Justice  bid  goodnight  to  those  who  had  been  listening  to 
him,  he  ended  an  episode  that  was  indeed  unique  in  the  history  of 
American  political  life.* 

Hugo  L.  Black  was  not  the  only  politician  of  Alabama  honored  at 
the  Klorero  in  Birmingham  on  September  2,  1926.  According  to  the 
Sprigle  articles,  at  this  state  meeting  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  Colonel 
Bibb  Graves  of  Montgomery,6  the  then  Democratic  nominee  for  the 
governorship,  was  also  presented  with  a  grand  passport,  which  he 
accepted  with  a  short  address  expressing  gratitude  for  the  Klan's  sup- 
port in  the  recently  held  primary,6  pledging  loyalty  to  Klan  principles, 
and  requesting  Klan  advice  in  the  discharge  of  his  new  public  duties. 
The  Governor-nominate's  peroration  is  of  especial  interest:  "...  every 
real  enemy  of  Klancraft  throughout  the  State  and  this  country  would 
really  delight  in  seeing  a  Cyclops-Governor  the  greatest  failure  in 
American  history.  The  Klan  is  on  trial;  it  is  not  Bibb  Graves  but  it 
is  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  that  stands  on  trial,  not  only  in  Alabama  but 
throughout  America."7 

At  the  height  of  the  Black  affair  in  1937  Graves,  by  then  serving  a 
second  term  as  Governor  of  Alabama,  in  an  interview  with  a  New  York 
Times  reporter,  admitted  attending,  as  a  Knight,  the  Klorero  on 
September  2,  1926.  He  admitted,  also,  receiving  on  that  occasion  what 
he  referred  to  as  "some  kind  of  badge,"  but  added  that  he  had  never 
attached  any  great  importance  to  that  award.  Graves  pooh-poohed 
the  suggestion  by  the  newspaperman  that  he  still  had  the  status  of  a 
Knight  in  view  of  the  nature  of  the  grand  passport  as  a  symbol  of  life 
membership.  He  emphasized  that  when  he  became  Governor  in  1927, 
he  disassociated  himself  from  the  order,  not  by  writing  a  letter  of  resig- 
nation, but  by  merely  "dropping  out"  through  the  non-payment  of  dues 
and  the  non-attendance  of  meetings. 

But  to  other  cases.  In  August,  1938,  while  he  was  seeking  a  second 
term  as  Senator  from  California,  William  G.  McAdoo  was  charged 
with  holding  life  membership  in  the  Klan.  The  accusation  was  made 
by  Peirson  Hall,  campaign  manager  for  McAdoo's  Republican  op- 
ponent for  the  senatorship,  Sheridan  Downey.  In  Hall's  possession 
was  the  grand  passport  allegedly  given  McAdoo  by  the  secret  fraternity; 
how  he  himself  obtained  possession  of  the  life  membership  card  Hall 
would  not  say.  Dog-eared  and  hardly  decipherable,  the  gold-engraved 
certificate  read: 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  99 

"To  All  Exalted  Cyclops,  Greetings: 

"The  bearer,  Kl.  William  G.  McAdoo,  whose  signature  and  present 
address  is  on  the  [the  printing  is  here  obliterated],  is  a  citizen  of  the 
Invisible  Empire,  and  to  him  is  given  this  Imperial  Passport  that  he  may 
travel  throughout  our  beneficent  domain  and  grant  and  have  the  fervent 
fellowship  of  Klansmen.  By  this  authority  you  will  pass  him  through 
the  portals  of  your  Klaverns  to  meet  with  Klansmen  in  Konklave 
assembled. 

"Signed  and  sealed  this  twenty-ninth  day  of  February,  1924,  by  His 
Lordship,  H.  W.  Evans,  Imperial  Wizard  and  Imperial  Cyclops." 

To  Hall's  accusation  McAdoo-  replied  that  any  statement  that  he  was 
or  ever  had  been  a  member  of  the  Klan  was  "utterly  and  wantonly 
false."  As  to  the  grand  passport  specifically,  the  Californian  said, 
"Any  purported  certificate  issued  to  me  by  the  Klan  must  be  a  forgery, 
as  I  have  never  had  any  such  certificate  and  have  never  seen  one."  Con- 
tacted in  Atlanta,  where  the  Klan  had  re-established  its  na- 
tional headquarters  after  having  transferred  them  to  Washington, 
D.  C,  in  1928,  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  told  the  press  that  he  had  no 
knowledge  of  McAdoo's  ever  having  been  a  Knight,  and  that  he,  as 
the  head  of  the  order,  had  never  signed  a  life  membership  card  for  the 
politician.  That  McAdoo  failed  to  be  re-elected  to  the  Upper  House 
in  1938  is  a  matter  of  public  record;  that  the  charge  of  Klan  affiliation 
was  responsible  for  the  defeat  is  not. 

Two  aspects  of  the  affair  must  be  brought  to  light.  First,  before 
becoming  chief  strategist  for  Senator  McAdoo's  political  enemy,  Hall 
had  tried  unsuccessfully  to  obtain  a  quite  necessary  recommendation 
from  the  Senator  for  reappointment  as  United  States  Attorney.  Second, 
the  internal  evidence  of  the  alleged  grand  passport  forces  the  serious 
student  of  the  Klan  to  deem  it  non-genuine.  No  Knight  would  ever 
omit  the  "1"  in  the  first  syllable  of  the  word  "Klonklave,"  or  refer  to 
the  Imperial  Wizard  as  "His  Lordship"  or  "Imperial  Cyclops." 

In  June,  1944,  the  Republican  national  committeeman  from  Indiana 
was  denounced  by  a  member  of  his  own  party  as  having  been  an  active 
Klansman  in  the  1920's  under  Grand  Dragon  David  Curtis  Stephenson 
of  the  Realm  of  Indiana.  The  accused  was  Robert  W.  Lyons,  a  million- 
aire lawyer  and  chain-store  lobbyist.  After  being  subjected  to  two 
weeks  of  bitter  criticism,  against  which  he  did  not  choose  to  defend 
himself,  Lyons  resigned  from  his  political  post. 

That  fall  two  candidates  for  public  office  were  charged  with  former 
membership  in  the  Klan.  The  first  one  admitted  to  it;  he  happened  to 
be  defeated.    On  October  23,  1944,  the  Democratic  nominee  for  the 


J 00  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

House  of  Representatives  from  the  Fifteenth  Congressional  District  of 
California,  Hal  Styles,  announced  that  he  had  joined  the  Klan  in  1926, 
but  that  four  years  later  he  purged  himself  by  writing  a  series  of  articles 
exposing  the  order  and  holding  it  up  to  public  condemnation.  Styles, 
however,  did  not  remain  on  the  defensive.  He  asserted  that  his  Re- 
publican opponent,  out  of  desperation  for  office,  finally  had  had  to  re- 
sort to  waging  a  smear  campaign. 

The  second  candidate  denied  the  charge  of  past  membership  in  the 
secret  fraternity;  he  was  elected.  On  October  26,  1944,  at  a  press 
conference  held  in  Peoria,  Illinois,  the  Democratic  nominee  for  the 
vice-presidency,  Senator  Harry  S.  Truman  of  Missouri,  commented  in 
detail  on  the  story  currently  being  circulated  that  he  was  a  former 
Klansman.  After  he  dismissed  the  account  as  a  "he"  which  had  been 
"nailed"  in  1922,  when  he  successfully  ran  for  the  judgeship  of  the 
County  Court  for  the  Eastern  District  of  Jackson,  Missouri,  Truman 
went  on  to  emphasize  that  the  order  had  always  fought  him  in  his 
home  state.  At  a  meeting  of  the  Grand  Lodge  of  Masons  in  September, 
1921,  in  St.  Louis,  he  had  worked  in  behalf  of  a  resolution  to  expel  any 
lodge  member  who  had  joined  the  Klan,  he  added.  The  Senator  as- 
serted that  he  had  never  attended  a  Klan  gathering.  "If  I  had  shown 
up  at  a  meeting,"  he  quipped,  "the  Klan  would  have  pulled  me  apart." 

The  most  the  secret  fraternity  was  capable  of  doing  politically  during 
the  1930's  was  to  prevent,  ever  so  often,  Negroes  in  southern  com- 
munities from  exercizing  the  franchise.  For  example,  in  Starke, 
Florida,  near  the  Georgia  border,  on  the  night  before  the  municipal 
election  of  September  13,  1938,  hooded  and  robed  Klansmen  visited  the 
Negro  section  of  town,  where  they  burned  two  crosses  and  left  notes 
warning  the  colored  population  to  "stay  out  of  Bradford  County 
politics  or  take  the  consequences."  In  Miami,  on  the  night  before  the 
Democratic  primary  of  May  2,  1939,  Knights  in  regalia  filled  about  fifty 
automobiles,  the  license  plates  of  which  were  shielded,  and  drove 
through  the  Negro  section  of  the  city,  tossing  out  cards  marked  "K.  K. 
K."  in  red  and  bearing  the  legend:  "Respectable  Negro  citizens  are 
not  voting  tomorrow.  Niggers  stay  away  from  the  polls."  Before  the 
Klansmen  withdrew,  they  had  set  fire  to  twenty-five  crosses  along  the 
railroad  tracks. 

/  There  is  a  difference  between  the  success  of  Klan  intimidation  of 
the  Negro  electorate  in  the  1920's  and  that  in  the  1930's  that  begs  for 
emphasis.  In  the  latter  decade  the  demonstrations  of  the  secret  order 
failed  to  prevent  the  Negro  community  as  a  whole  from  showing  up  at 
the  polls.  I  As  a  matter  of  fact,  in  the  Miami  Democratic  primary  of 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  101 

May  2,  1939,  the  colored  population  ignored  the  warning  issued  by 
the  Klan  to  cast  a  record  vote. 

J  Initiation  ceremonies,  field  days,  Easter  sunrise  services,  setting 
crosses  ablaze,  parades,  "night-riding,"  intimidation  of  the  Negro 
electorate — these  things  kept  the  Klan  merely  alive  during  the  1930's. 
Imperial  Wizard  Evans,  now  somewhat  jowlier  and  a  great  deal 
paunchier,  must  have  racked  his  brains  over  the  proper  approach  to  be 
used  in  order  to  regain  for  his  fraternity  the  tremendous  influence, 
both  social  and  political,  that  it  had  enjoyed  in  the  previous  decade. 
Times  do  change!  To  make  a  comeback  perhaps  it  was  necessary  to 
add  to  the  original  creed  of  the  secret  order.  In  the  early  summer  of 
1934  Evans  took  that  step  when  he  announced: 

"Public-spirited  people,  klansmen  and  non-members  alike,  realize 
that  this  nation  is  in  great  danger.  Because  of  its  record  of  heroic 
achievement,  the  Klan  has  been  called  upon  by  them  to  mobilize  . . . 

"Klansmen  in  action,  competent  and  courageous,  will  lead  the  Ameri- 
can people  to  see  that  individual  liberty  and  Constitutional  Government 
shall  not  perish  and  that  this  nation  be  no  longer  the  victim  of  alien 
propaganda." 

What  was  the  substance  of  the  alien  propaganda  against  which  a 
revived  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  was  to  be  a 
bulwark?  It  was  Communism.  Taking  its  place  in  the  mid-1930's 
alongside  the  established  beliefs  of  the  fraternity — white  supremacy, 
anti-Semitism,  anti-foreign-bornism,  anti-Catholicism,  "pure"  American- 
ism, Protestantism  and  strict  morality— was  the  new  tenet  of  anti-Com- 
munism. 

A  post- World  War  II  leader  of  the  Klan,  Dr.  Samuel  J.  Green,  was 
wont  to  iterate  that  it  was  his  order  which  first  "discovered"  Com- 
munism in  the  United  States  and  which  first  assailed  it — in  the  year 
1929.  "Congressmen  laughed  at  us  from  the  start,"  he  once  chided.  As 
to  historicity,  Green's  contention  leaves  everything  to  be  desired.  Be 
that  as  it  may,  from  the  very  beginning  of  the  1930's  Klansmen  despised 
American  Communists  because  of  their  efforts  to  court  Negroes  with 
proffers  of  economic  advancement  and  racial  equality.  In  March, 
1931,  fourteen  armed  Knights  abducted  and  flogged  two  Communist 
organizers  in  Dallas,  Texas,  for  making  speeches  against  Jim  Crow 
laws  and  the  widespread  lynching  of  Negroes.  In  downtown  Bir- 
mingham, Alabama,  on  a  late  afternoon  in  November,  1932,  Negroes 
were  showered  by  paper  pamphlets  tossed  from  a  building  by  members 
of  the  local  Klan.  The  message  read:  "Negroes  of  Birmingham,  the 
Klan  is  watching  you.     Tell  the  Communists  to  get  out  of  town. 


102  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

They  mean  only  trouble  for  you,  for  Alabama  is  a  good  place  for 
good  Negroes  and  a  bad  place  for  Negroes  who  believe  in  racial 
equality.  Report  Communistic  activities  to  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  Box  661, 
Birmingham." 

In  the  next  few  years  Klan  leaders  consciously  de-emphasized  the 
anti-Negroism,  anti-Semitism,  anti-foreign-bornism,  and  anti-Catholi- 
cism of  their  fraternity.  And  it  was  made  quite  clear  to  the  nation  that 
the  new  crusade  of  the  organization  was  aimed  at  Communism. 
Klan  oratory  in  New  York  illustrates  well  the  point.  On  September  4, 
1933,  the  order  ended  a  three-day  convention  on  a  vacant  lot  in  Free- 
port,  Long  Island,  with  platform  appearances  of  hooded  and  robed 
speakers  expounding  on  the  importance  of  Klan  success  in  arousing  the 
American  people  to  the  menace  of  Communism.  The  following  Sep- 
tember, after  three  years  of  inactivity,  the  local  chapter  in  Westchester 
County  held  a  reorganization  meeting.  A  Kleagle  who  had  arrived  in 
an  automobile  bearing  a  Rhode  Island  license  plate  told  his  fellow 
Knights:  "The  Klan  is  needed  now,  particularly  in  this  section  of  the 
country,  so  that  we  can  give  back  to  the  American  people  the  funda- 
mental rights  conveyed  by  the  Constitution.  Communism  must  be 
stamped  out.  The  New  Deal  has  become  communistic  and  I  feel  cer- 
tain that  the  American  public  will  rise  in  protest  and  soundly  defeat 
President  Roosevelt  at  the  next  general  election." 

Speaking  to  about  75  of  his  charges  for  more  than  an  hour  on  Sep- 
tember 5,  1936,  the  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  New  York,  H.  W. 
Garing,  asserted  repeatedly  that  their  order  was  not  in  the  least  anti- 
Negro,  anti-Catholic,  or  anti-Semitic,  but  was  in  every  respect  anti- 
Communistic. 

In  the  Middle  West  a  drive  was  under  way  in  the  fall  of  1937  to 
revive  the  Klan  in  the  states  of  Ohio,  Indiana,  and  Michigan.  As  part 
of  the  program  for  resuscitation,  letters  were  sent  out  by  Kleagles 
summoning  back  all  former  Knights.  Across  the  bottom  of  these  epistles 
were  five  words:    "Communism  Will  Not  Be  Tolerated." 

The  unprecedented  growth  during  the  1920's  of  various  mass  produc- 
tion enterprises,  such  as  the  automobile  industry,  had  made  it  necessary 
for  skilled  and  unskilled  workers  to  toil  under  the  same  roof.  The  latter 
were  denied  membership  in  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  which 
was  limited  to  skilled  workers  in  a  particular  trade.  IWhen,  in  1935, 
certain  labor  leaders,  led  by  John  L.  Lewis  of  the  United  Mine 
Workers,  failed  to  convince  the  American  Federation  of  Labor  that  un- 
skilled workers  should  be  permitted  to  join  its  ranks,  ten  unions  with- 
in the  federation  formed  the  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization. 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  703 

Its  goal  was  to  organize  all  workers  in  the  mass  production  industries. 
Three  years  later  the  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization  completely 
severed  itself  from  the  American  Federation  of  Labor,  changing  its 
title  to  the  Congress  of  Industrial  Organizations. 

The  heads  of  the  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization  quickly 
discovered  that  Communists  would  be  quite  helpful  in  their  attempt 
to  organize  the  mass  production  industries.  Of  course,  labor  leaders 
had  from  the  very  beginning  decided  merely  to  "use"  the  Communists, 
and  they  dropped  them  just  as  soon  as  Communist  tactics  were  deemed 
no  longer  necessary.8  The  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization  was 
thus  grist  for  the  Klan  mill. 

While  Akron,  Ohio,  was  experiencing  a  period  of  anxiety  in  1936 
due  to  a  "sit-down"strike  in  the  local  B.  F.  Goodrich  tire  plant,  Kleagles 
successfully  "worked"  the  city  for  new  members.  Even  after  the 
industrial  dispute  was  resolved  with  the  return  to  work  of  10,000  em- 
ployees in  late  September,  Akron's  labor  relations  were  to  remain  un- 
settled, for  the  newly  reactivated  local  Klan  began  a  crusade  against 
Communism,  which  was  in  reality  directed  against  labor  unions  in 
general  and  the  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization  in  particular. 

In  the  early  summer  of  1937  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  moved  his  offices 
from  rural  Roswell  Road,  about  ten  miles  outside  of  Atlanta,  to  the 
heart  of  the  city.  It  is  strongly  noncoincidental  that  Evans'  change  of 
headquarters  took  place  at  the  same  time  that  the  Steel  Workers  Organi- 
zing Committee  and  the  Textile  Workers  Organizing  Committee,  both 
affiliates  of  the  Committee  for  Industrial  Organization,  began  their 
joint  campaigns  of  unionizing  laborers  in  the  southeastern  part  of  the 
nation.  Soon  after  the  Texile  Workers  Organizing  Committee  started 
operations,  its  organizers  in  Chattanooga,  Tennessee,  Columbus,  Geor- 
gia, and  other  smaller  southern  cities,  found  crosses  burning  in  the 
night  in  the  immediate  vicinity  of  their  residences.  In  Greenville, 
South  Carolina,  an  active  center  of  the  textile  industry,  within  a  week 
after  the  Textile  Workers  Organizing  Committee  began  its  cam- 
paign, there  appeared  tacked  onto  telephone  poles  and  billboards 
hundreds  of  cards  carrying  this  message: 

"C.  I.  O.  is  Communism 

Communism 

Will  Not  Be  Tolerated 

Ku  Klux  Klan 

Rides  Again" 


704  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

On  July  11,  1937,  the  Imperial  Wizard  declared  that  the  Committee 
for  Industrial  Organization  was  "infested"  with  Communists.  Referring 
to  the  current  labor  strife  in  the  nation,  Evans  said,  "The  Klan  will  not 
sit  idly  by  and  allow  the  C.  I.  O.  to  destroy  our  social  order,  nor 
shall  the  C.  I.  O.  flout  law  and  promote  social  disorder  without  swift 
punishment."  Two  weeks  later  an  announcement  was  issued  from 
Evans'  headquarters  that  the  Klan  would  hold  a  series  of  demonstra- 
tions throughout  the  nation  as  a  protest  against  "alien  labor  agitation." 
The  first  of  these  public  displays  took  place  in  Atlanta  on  July  31,  1937, 
when  Klansmen  living  in  or  near  that  city  paraded  in  full  regalia  behind 
a  fiery  cross. 

In  1937,  while  on  a  murder  trial  assignment  in  Tampa,  Florida,  a 
New  York  Times  correspondent  took  time  out  to  talk  to  many  repre- 
sentative inhabitants  of  the  area  regarding  the  part  the  Klan  had  played 
in  southern  life.  One  of  those  interviewed  was  a  middle-aged  successful 
attorney  in  Bartow,  forty  miles  southeast  of  Tampa,  who  took  vehement 
issue  with  what  he  considered  to  be  the  standard  thinking  in  the 
North  on  the  Klan — that  the  order  would  never  again  be  an  active, 
effective  one.  Maintaining  that  his  views  were  those  of  the  great 
majority  of  the  substantial  citizens  of  southern  small  towns,  the  lawyer 
said,  "Down  here,  we,  who  have  heard  John  L.  Lewis'  promise  to 
unionize  all  labor,  know  the  Klan  will  be  in  the  spotlight  for  a  long  time 
to  come.  When  the  C.  I.  O.  comes  here,  as  it  promises  to  do,  the  Klan 
will  start  up  all  over  again." 

The  foresight  of  the  southern  small  town  lawyer  and  the  hindsight 
of  organizers  for  the  Congress  of  Industrial  Organizations  two  years 
later  were  completely  compatible.  Delegates  to  the  convention  of  the 
Texile  Workers  Union  of  America,  in  Philadelphia,  in  May,  1939 
were  told  by  organizers  that  a  primary  reason  why  the  "No.  1  task"  of 
full  and  complete  unionization  of  all  southern  textile  workers  was  still 
unfinished  was  the  vicious  hostility  of  a  revived  Klan. 

The  secret  fraternity,  however,  was  not  able  to  resuscitate  during 
the  mid-1930's — not  even  as  the  clamorously  self-advertised  bulwark 
against  Communism  and  the  unionization  of  the  mass  production  in- 
dustries by  leftist  labor  leaders.  The  reason  appears  to  be  twofold. 
First,  during  the  depression  years  whatever  money  a  man  was  able  to 
acquire  was  used  for  the  basic  necessities  of  life.  One's  wife  and 
children  had  to  be  provided  with  some  food,  some  clothing,  some  kind 
of  shelter.  Nothing  was  left  over  to  accumulate  into  $10  for  the  Klec- 
token  or  into  $5  for  the  regalia,  let  alone  into  the  sum  demanded 
regularly  by  the  local  chapter  as  dues.     In  early  1934  the  Memphis 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  105 

Commercial- Appeal  editorialized  that  although  the  Klan  prospered 
during  the  post- World  War  I  period  of  "economic  abandon,"  values 
had  changed  since  then.  "Even  fraternities  of  ancient  establishment 
have  found  it  difficult  to  survive.  'Jmers'  have  been  conspicuous  by 
their  absence  since  1929.  They'll  still  be  absent  when  the  hooded 
Atlantans  try  to  meet  again  in  the  groves."  The  years  were  to  prove 
right  this  southern  newspaper. 

Second,  other  organizations  came  into  being  during  the  mid-1930's 
which  had  ideologies  that  immediately  captured  the  allegiance  of 
millions  of  Americans  who  would  ordinarily  have  been  excellent  pros- 
pects for  the  Kleagle.  !Dr.  Francis  E.  Townsend  of  California  launched 
the  Old  Age  Revolving  Pension  plan  to  return  the  nation  to  general 
prosperity  by  paying  $200  per  month  to  every  individual  over  sixty 
years  old  with  the  requirement  that  the  entire  sum  be  spent  before  the 
next  $200  was  obtained.  In  1935,  the  Pacific  coast  physician  claimed 
5,000,000  followers.  In  the  spring  of  that  year  Senator  Huey  P.  Long 
of  Louisiana  announced  his  Share  the  Wealth  program  which  involved 
the  federal  government's  guaranteeing  every  family  in  the  nation  an 
annual  income  of  at  least  $5,000.  Clubs  were  organized  by  the  Sena- 
tor in  many  states  to  work  actively  in  behalf  of  his  scheme.  Then 
there  were  the  new  "hate"  groups,  such  as  William  Dudley  Pelley's 
Silver  Shirt  Legion  of  America,  and  the  Rev.  Gerald  L.  K.  Smith's 
Committee  of  One  Million. 

On  January  16,  1939,  Imperial  Wizard  Evans  astounded  the  country 
by  accepting  the  invitation  of  Bishop  Gerald  P.  O'Hara  of  the  Savannah- 
Atlanta  Catholic  Diocese  to  attend  the  dedication  ceremonies  for 
Atlanta's  new  Cathedral  of  Christ  the  King.  ( The  edifice  was  built  on 
the  site  of  the  first  national  Klan  headquarters.  After  the  Klan  had 
established  a  new  headquarters  in  Washington,  D.  C,  in  1928,  it  sold 
the  property  to  an  insurance  company,  which  in  turn  sold  it  to  the 
Diocese.)  Further,  Evans  consented  to  appearance  in  the  press  of  a 
photograph  of  himself  standing  cordially  next  to  Bishop  O'Hara  and 
Denis  Cardinal  Dougherty  of  Philadelphia,  who  was  also  in  attendance 
at  the  dedication  ceremonies  for  the  cathedral.  A  leading  Methodist 
minister  in  Atlanta,  the  Rev.  Walter  Holcomb,  surely  spoke  for 
millions  of  Americans  when  he  characterized  the  entire  incident  as 
"one  of  the  greatest  triumphs  over  intolerance  that  I  have  ever  seen." 

Evans'  deed  is  the  most  notable  illustration  of  the  Klan's  abandon- 
ment, whether  actual  or  ostensible,  of  religio-racial  antipathies  for  the 
sake  of  its  new  crusade  against  Communism  and  the  Committee  for 
Industrial  Organization.     The  actions  of  the  Imperial  Wizard  of  the 


706  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Ku  Klux  Klan  were  always  to  be  given  proper  respect  throughout  each 
and  every  division  of  the  Invisible  Empire.  Evans  discovered,  however, 
that  while  he  had  been  in  attendance  at  the  dedication  ceremonies 
for  the  cathedral,  he  had  been  acting  for  himself,  not  for  Klansmen 
throughout  the  nation.  Whether  his  decision  to  publicly  congregate 
with  members  of  the  Catholic  hierarchy  had  stemmed  from  sincerity 
or  artfulness  made  little  or  no  difference;  his  action  had  been  too  ex- 
treme for  Klandom. 

A  few  months  later,  on  June  10,  at  a  Klonvokation  in  Atlanta  attend- 
ed by  Knights  from  thirty  states,  Evans  relinquished  the  post  he  had 
held  for  nearly  two  decades.  He  stoutly  denied  that  there  was  any 
internal  dissension  in  the  order  over  policy  in  general  or  over  his  at- 
tendance at  the  dedication  ceremonies  in  particular;  he  maintained 
that  at  the  time  he  had  been  re-elected  Imperial  Wizard  in  1935,  he 
had  decided  that  he  would  not  be  a  candidate  to  succeed  himself. 

Acceding  to  the  Imperial  Wizardship  was  James  A.  Colescott,  a 
stocky,  bespectacled  forty-two  year  old  former  veterinarian  from  Terre 
Haute,  Indiana.8  Active  in  the  secret  order  since  1923,  Dr.  Colescott 
had  served  it  as  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Ohio,  later  as  liaison 
officer  between  national  headquarters  and  local  Klans  in  Pennsylvania, 
Indiana,  Michigan,  Kentucky,  and  Texas,  and  for  the  past  two  years 
as  Evans'  personal  and  chief  assistant  in  Atlanta. 

In  his  first  public  announcement  after  taking  office,  Colescott 
promised  that  the  interests  of  the  "native-born,  white,  Protestant  gen- 
tile" population  of  the  country  would  be  promoted  by  an  "administra- 
tion of  action."  The  new  Imperial  Wizard  tried  to  keep  his  troth  with 
his  fellow  Knights.  Under  Colescott  the  anti-Negroism,  anti-Semitism 
anti-foreign-bornism,  and  anti-Catholicism  of  the  twentieth  century 
Klan  were  no  longer  soft-pedaled;  the  original  creed  of  the  order  was 
ardently  reaffirmed. 

As  for  an  "administration  of  action,"  during  Colescott's  first  half 
dozen  months  as  head  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  a  record  of  considerable 
growth  and  development  was  established.  Membership  lists  of  the 
1920's  were  retrieved  from  the  files  and  used  as  a  basis  for  intensive 
recruitment  operations.  Kleagles  were  trained  in  the  South  during 
the  winter  of  1939-1940  to  "work"  the  Middle  West  the  following 
spring.  The  Imperial  Wizard  himself  canvassed  the  Atlantic  coast  for 
new  Knights.  Crosses  were  set  ablaze  in,  for  example,  Yonkers,  New 
York;  Roselle,  New  Jersey,  south  of  Newark;  Uniontown,  Pennsylvania; 
Baltimore,  Maryland;  Muncie,  Indiana;  Ferndale,  Michigan,  just  out- 
side of  Detroit;  and  in  several  towns  in  Georgia,  Florida,  and  California. 


DISREPUTE  AND  DECLINE  107 

Local  Klans  were  set  up  in  such  important  cities  as  Providence,  Rhode 
Island;  Schenectady,  New  York;  Jersey  City,  New  Jersey;  Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania;  Cincinnati,  Ohio;  Urbana,  Illinois;  and  Kansas  City, 
Missouri.  The  factory  making  the  official  Klan  regalia  speeded  up 
production  of  the  costume,  which  was  reduced  from  the  long  establish- 
ed original  price  of  $5  to  $3.  National  Klan  headquarters  was  re- 
furbished and  enlarged. 

Obviously  anticipating  widespread  antipathy  toward  a  reactivated 
Klan,  the  Imperial  Wizard  on  April  17,  1940,  issued  an  edict  forbidding 
the  wearing  of  the  hood  at  any  time  and  restricting  the  burning  of 
crosses  to  formal  ceremonies. 

Colescott  boasted  that  during  the  first  year  of  his  rule  Klan  member- 
ship increased  by  50  per  cent,  that  by  the  summer  of  1940  there  were 
500,000  Knights  in  thirty-nine  states.  Estimates  by  contemporary  re- 
porters of  the  organization,  however,  put  membership  closer  to  200,000. 
Whatever  the  numerical  strength  of  the  Klan  was  in  1940,  it  can  be 
said  with  certainty  that  two  out  of  every  three  Knights  was  a 
Southerner. 

Colescott's  program  of  expansion  was  abruptly  and  decisively  cut 
short  by  a  force  quite  outside  his  reach — World  War  II.  Through  two 
separate  acts,  the  first  shortly  before,  and  the  second  soon  after, 
American  entry  into  the  war,  the  Klan  hoped  to  prove  to  the  nation  its 
basic  patriotism.  In  October,  1941,  it  was  reported  that  the  fraternity 
was  printing  the  slogan  "Buy  a  Share  in  America — Buy  Savings  Bonds" 
on  the  application  forms  it  sent  to  prospective  members.  In  January, 
1942,  it  was  announced  from  national  headquarters  that  "in  keeping 
with  its  policy  of  Americanism,"  the  order  had  withdrawn  from  circu- 
lation after  the  declaration  of  war  against  Japan,  "all"  its  pamphlets 
"of  a  controversial  nature." 

Then,  Klan  activity  virtually  ceased.  From  1942  to  1945,  those 
few  Americans  who  for  one  reason  or  another  happened  to  be  interested 
in  news  of  the  secret  order  searched  their  daily  papers  fruitlessly  for 
months  at  a  time  for  an  article  on,  or  a  report  of,  the  Klan;  those  many 
Americans  who  happened  not  to  be  interested  read  in  their  daily  papers 
of.  world-wide  hostilities  and  their  concomitant  miseries — and  quickly 
forgot  about  the  Klan. 


Chapter  IX 

A  SPLINTERED  BODY 

In  November,  1944,  Dr.  H.  Scudder  Mekeel,  Associate  Professor 
of  Anthropology  at  the  University  of  Wisconsin,  warned  those  gathered 
before  him  for  the  annual  meeting  of  the  National  Committee  for  Men- 
tal Hygiene  that  there  was  a  real  possibility  that  the  conclusion  of  the 
war  currently  being  waged  against  Germany  and  Japan  would  be 
followed  by  a  revival  "in  full  force"  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan. 

Seven  months  before  Mekeel  made  his  remarks,  the  secret  order  had 
officially  dissolved  itself.  Being  hounded  by  the  Bureau  of  Internal 
Revenue  for  not  having  paid  past  taxes  amounting  to  $685,305,  the 
Klan  held  a  Klonvokation  in  Atlanta,  Georgia,  on  April  23,  1944,  at 
which  the  hierarchy  of  Knights  assembled  "repealed  all  decrees, 
vacated  all  offices,  voided  all  charters,  and  relieved  every  klansman  of 
any  obligation  whatever."  Imperial  Wizard  Colescott  was  consequently 
released  from  the  post  he  had  held  for  a  half  dozen  years.  It  was  thus 
hoped  that  any  entanglement  with  the  federal  government  over 
tax  suits  would  be  avoided. 

But  this  did  not  mean  the  dissolution  of  the  Klan  in  actuality.  At 
the  same  Klonvokation  it  was  decided  to  establish  an  "informal,  unin- 
corporated" alliance  of  the  local  chapters  of  the  fraternity  operating 
in  the  state  of  Georgia.  Chosen  to  lead  the  newly  organized  Association 
of  Georgia  Klans  with  the  title  of  Grand  Dragon  was  Dr.  Samuel  J. 
Green,  a  toothbrush-mustachioed,  bespectacled  fifty-four  year  old 
obstetrician  from  Atlanta.  The  physician  had  been  an  active  Knight 
since  1922.1  While  disclaiming  a  legal  relationship  between  the  In- 
visible Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  and  the  Association  of 
Georgia  Klans,  Dr.  Green  made  no  secret  that  the  latter  would  perpetu- 
ate the  philosophy,  ritual,  and  methods  of  operation  of  its  inactive  fore- 
bear. 

Associate  Professor  Mekeel  had  been  perceptive.  Retired  from 
sight  during  World  War  II,  the  Klan  appeared  on  the  American  scene 
soon  after  hostilities  ceased.  Frequently,  from  the  fall  of  1945  to  the 
spring  of  1946,  huge  fiery  crosses  on  top  of  Stone  Mountain,  outside  of 
Atlanta,  lighted  up  the  night.  It  was  here  on  May  9,  1946,  that  the 
secret  fraternity  conducted  its  first  large  postwar  initiation  ceremony. 

708 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  109 

The  public  had  been  invited  through  advertisements  in  the  press.  The 
approximately  2,000  who  responded  saw  more  than  200  individuals 
kneel  before  Grand  Dragon  Green  to  take  a  sacred  oath  of  allegiance 
to  the  order.    Exulted  Green,  "We  are  revived." 

The  membership  of  the  Klan  in  Georgia  was  estimated  in  the 
middle  of  1946  to  be  between  40,000  and  50,000,  about  half  of  which 
was  centered  in  Atlanta.  By  1949  the  fraternity  had  achieved  its  goal  of 
an  active  local  Klan  in  each  of  the  159  counties  of  the  state.  Green 
announced  that  he  was  receiving  from  all  over  the  nation  requests  for 
the  formation  of  chapters,  usually  from  groups  with  a  starting  strength 
of  100. 

/  Very  quickly  the  revived  fraternity  gained  political  influence  in 
Georgia.  *  In  1946,  in  his  bid  for  a  fourth  term  as  Governor  of  the 
Empire  State  of  the  South,  Eugene  Talmadge  publicly  declared  he 
would  welcome  along  with  the  support  of  all  other  white  inhabitants 
the  backing  of  Klansmen.  After  the  Democratic  gubernatorial  primary 
of  July  17,  Grand  Dragon  Green  was  wont  to  boast  that  by  the  most  in- 
tensive activity  the  order  had  contributed  100,000  votes  to  Talmadge, 
thus  assuring  him  the  nomination  of  his  party.  In  solidly  Democratic 
Georgia,  Talmadge,  of  course,  went  on  to  victory  over  his  Republican 
opponent  in  the  general  election  that  followed.  Before  he  could  take 
office,  however,  he  died.  In  1949  his  son  Herman  acceded  to  the 
governorship.  In  June  of  that  year  Green  announced  that  he  was  a 
member  of  Governor  Herman  Talmadge's  personal  staff.  In  Green's 
office  in  Atlanta  a  newspaper  reporter  had  indeed  spotted  what  ap- 
peared to  be  a  framed  commission  designating  Green  as  a  lieutenant 
colonel  and  aide-de-camp  to  the  Governor  and  bearing  Talmadge's 
name.  When  the  Chief  Executive  was  asked  whether  the  Grand  Dra- 
gon was  a  staff  member,  he  replied  simply,  "I  don't  know." 

In  a  host  of  southern  cities  outside  the  boundaries  of  Georgia,  in- 
cluding Knoxville,  Tennessee,  Key  West,  Florida,  and  Birmingham, 
Alabama,  Knights  were  holding  regular  meetings.  In  Birmingham,  for 
example,  there  were  four  chapters  of  the  Klan,  with  a  total  membership 
of  1,000.  In  and  around  that  city  on  a  single  spring  night  in  1946  eight 
crosses   were   set   ablaze. 

The  Klan  was  making  headway  in  the  North,  too.  On  March  21, 
1946,  fiery  crosses  appeared  in  Flint,  Michigan,  after  it  was  announced 
that  a  Negro  would  be  a  candidate  for  a  municipal  post.  Some  weeks 
later  crosses  were  burned  near  the  home  of  a  Negro  in  Los  Angeles, 
California,  in  a  field  north  of  that  city,  and  in  front  of  a  house  belong- 
ing to  a  Jewish  fraternity  on  the  campus  of  the  University  of  Southern 


J  JO  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

California.  In  the  fall  of  1946,  the  King  Kleagle  of  Indiana,  Harold 
Overton,  told  the  press  that  the  Klan  in  the  Hoosier  State  had  recruiters 
at  work  in  sixty  of  the  ninety-two  counties,  was  processing  121,000 
application  forms,  and  was  engaged  in  setting  up  its  headquarters  in 
Muncie. 

Resurgence  was  met  by  resistance.  The  vast  majority  of  Ameri- 
cans, including  those  south  of  the  Mason-Dixon  line,  shuddered  at  the 
revival  of  the  Klan.  In  the  post- World  War  I  period  most  individuals 
who  were  repelled  by  Klanism  decided  against  voicing  their  feelings 
because  of  the  real  possibility  of  extremist  counter-measures  on  the 
part  of  the  powerful  secret  order.  This  was  not  the  case  after  World 
War  II.  \  Vigorous  opposition  to  the  Klan  came  from  many  quarters — 
independent  citizens  acting  in  concert,  veterans  groups,  church  associa- 
tions, and  government  bodies. 

On  September  14,  1946,  leaders  of  the  nation's  Negroes  meeting  in 
Los  Angeles  started  a  campaign  to  acquire  a  million  signatures  on  a 
petition  to  outlaw  the  Klan.  Citizens  of  Macon,  Georgia,  who  were 
very  much  concerned  over  periodic  outbursts  of  Klan  activity  banded 
together  in  1948  to  agitate  for  the  enactment  of  a  municipal  ordinance 
prohibiting  the  masking  of  one's  face  in  public.  In  December,  1948, 
a  cross  was  set  ablaze  in  front  of  the  home  of  Jere  Moore,  the  anti-Klan 
editor  of  the  Milledgeville,  Georgia  Union  Recorder.  After  Moore 
retaliated  with  an  editorial  accusing  the  secret  order  of  threatening 
freedom  of  the  press,  ten  influential  citizens  of  the  town  put  up  a 
$1,000  reward  for  the  apprehension  of  the  cross-burners. 

At  the  closing  session  of  a  convention  of  the  Jewish  War  Veterans  in 
Liberty,  New  York,  in  June,  1946,  a  resolution  was  adopted  condemning 
the  Klan  and  requesting  that  the  federal  government  determine  to 
what  extent  the  order  was  violating  the  law.  Some  months  later  those 
attending  the  annual  convention  of  the  New  Jersey  branch  of  the 
American  Legion  censured  the  secret  fraternity  and  called  upon  the 
governor  and  his  staff  to  do  all  in  their  power  to  prevent  any  such 
organization  from  operating  in  the  Garden  State.  In  1949  Klan 
terrorism  in  Alabama  aroused  the  wrath  of  American  Legionnaires  in 
that  commonwealth  to  the  extent  that  they  officially  determined  to 
"put  an  end"  to  such  lawlessness.  Soon  after,  500  militant  members 
of  the  Georgia  branch  of  the  American  Legion  banded  together  to 
back  up  law  enforcement  in  all  matters  pertaining  to  the  Klan. 

In  the  resistance  to  postwar  Klanism  various  Protestant  church  organi- 
zations took  a  big  lead.  This,  of  course,  did  an  immense  amount  of 
good  for  the  anti-Klan  movement,  since  Protestants  were  not  expected 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  111 

to  be  as  resolute  in  their  opposition  to  the  secret  order  as  the  racial, 
religious,  or  ethnic  groups  against  which  it  railed.  In  the  fall  of  1947 
the  Presbyterian  Synod  of  New  York  adopted  a  committee  report  de- 
ploring the  revival  of  the  fraternity.  The  following  summer,  Presby- 
terian leaders  from  all  of  the  southern  states  meeting  in  Montreat, 
North  Carolina,  labeled  Klanism  "definitely  akin  to  fascism"  and  called 
on  the  House  of  Representatives  Committee  on  Un-American  Activities 
to  investigate  the  order. 

Other  church  groups  were  not  to  be  outdone  by  their  Presbyterian 
brethren.  The  South  Carolina  Baptist  Convention  resolved  to  fight 
the  Klan,  calling  it  "an  unnecessary  organization  totally  at  variance 
with  our  Christian  and  democratic  way  of  life";  the  association  of 
Methodist  ministers  in  Atlanta  adopted  a  resolution  denouncing  the 
fraternity  as  a  "cowardly  anti-Christian  mob." 

In  the  late  1940's  there  were  incidents  of  Knights  in  regalia  interrupt- 
ing church  services  in  order  to  present  the  minister  with  an  envelope 
containing  money.  Such  Klan  benevolence  was  quite  common  during 
the  1920's  and  went  uncriticized  officially  by  Protestant  spokesmen 
in  high  position.  This  was  not  so  two  decades  later.  Dr.  Hugh  A. 
Brimm,  Executive  Secretary  of  the  Social  Service  Commission  of  the 
Southern  Baptist  Convention,  on  January  28,  1949,  requested  all  pastors 
in  his  denomination  to  do  the  following  in  case  their  services  were 
interrupted  by  Klansmen  bearing  cash  gifts: 

"( 1 )  Keep  cool —  no  one  should  be  afraid  of  cowards  who  won't  show 
their  faces. 

"(2)  Remember  that  superficial  piety  is  hypocrisy  before  God  and 
man.  These  men  cannot  wash  the  blood  stains  of  lynched  victims 
from  their  skirts  by  merely  walking  into  a  church  with  Tjlood  money.' 

"( 3 )  Refuse  any  gifts  and  invite  them  to  stay  only  if  they  remove  their 
masks.  If  they  refuse  to  unhood  themselves,  then  dismiss  the  service 
with  a  prayer  for  them  that  they  might  see  the  light  of  God's  love 
for  all  men  and  themselves  come  to  love  all  men." 

'  The  most  telling  blow  to  Klanism  in  the  post-World  War  II  period 
was  delivered  by  government  on  all  three  levels — federal,  state,  and 
local.  In  the  spring  of  1946  an  investigator  for  the  House  of  Repre- 
sentatives Committee  on  Un-American  Activities  was  to  travel  to  Atlan- 
ta, Georgia,  for  an  on-the-spot  search  into  the  resurgence  of  the  Klan. 
It  was  suggested  by  one  spokesman  for  the  committee  that  the  inquiry 
might  be  extended  to  California,  where  the  order  was  periodically 
bestirring  itself. 

Soon  after,  Assistant  Attorney-General  T.  Lamar  Caudle  announced 


7  72  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

that  government  agents  were  looking  into  reports  that  the  German- 
American  Bund  was  reviving  and  had  recently  formed  an  alliance 
with  the  Klan.  To  bolster  his  charge  that  the  two  organizations  had 
collaborated  prior  to  World  War  II,  Caudle  declared  that  he  possessed 
documentary  evidence  to  show  the  following:  in  1937  a  leader  of 
the  Bund  said  that  his  group  was  co-operating  with  the  Klan,  since  the 
aims  of  the  two  were  "similar  in  many  ways";  in  that  same  year  the 
two  bodies  considered  forming  an  anti-labor  third  party;  on  August  18, 
1940,  the  Bund  and  the  Klan  held  a  joint  outdoor  rally  at  the  former's 
Camp  Nordland,  situated  in  the  northwestern  part  of  New  Jersey. 

In  May,  1946,  after  condemning  the  revived  Klan,  Attorney-General 
Tom  C.  Clark  declared  that  all  the  laws  at  his  command  would  be  used 
to  stamp  out  any  organization  that  was  steeped  in  bigotry.  Some 
weeks  later  Clark  revealed  that  the  activities  of  the  secret  fraternity 
in  seven  states — Tennessee,  Georgia,  Florida,  Mississippi,  New  York, 
Michigan,  and  California — were  being  examined  by  the  Federal  Bureau 
of  Investigation  to  ascertain  whether  any  federal  laws  were  being 
broken.  In  December,  1947,  the  Klan  was  listed  by  the  Attorney- 
General,  along  with  ninety-five  other  groups,  as  being  disloyal  to  the 
nation. 

The  representatives  of  state  government  eagerly  took  up  the  cudgels 
against  the  secret  fraternity.  As  soon  as  the  Attorney-General  of 
California,  Robert  W.  Kenney,  had  finished  parading  a  throng  of  former 
Knights  before  Superior  Judge  Alfred  A.  Paonessa  to  prove  his  con- 
tention that  the  Klan  "taught  racial  hatred  through  violence  and  inti- 
midation," the  jurist  revoked  the  California  charter  of  the  order  and 
denied  it  the  right  to  obtain  a  new  permit  in  that  state.  Paonessa's 
action  was  taken  on  May  21,  1946,  in  Los  Angeles. 

After  California  prohibited  the  Klan  from  operating  within  its  bound- 
aries, other  states  quickly  did  the  same.  On  the  application  of  New 
York's  Attorney-General,  State  Supreme  Court  Justice  Joseph  A. 
Gavagan,  in  July,  1946,  signed  an  order  revoking  the  state  charter  of  the 
Klan  and  dissolving  the  organization.  Anyone  who  atempted  to  sus- 
tain the  life  of  the  secret  fraternity  in  the  Empire  State  faced  a  fine 
of  $10,000  and  imprisonment  up  to  six  months. 

Later  that  summer  Kentucky  took  legal  action.  The  Attorney- 
General  filed  suit  to  have  the  Klan's  corporate  rights  in  the  state  revoked, 
charging  that  the  fraternity  persecuted  certain  citizens  because  of 
their  racial  or  religious  background,  after  which  Judge  William  B. 
Ardery  in  Circuit  Court  in  Frankfort,  Franklin  County,  directed  the 
clerk  of  the  court  to  enter  a  default  judgment  restraining  the  Klan 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  713 

"from  holding  itself  out  in  any  way  as  a  corporation  duly  authorized  to 
do  business   in  Kentucky." 

Then  New  Jersey  outlawed  the  order.  The  testimony  submitted  by 
Attorney-General  Walter  D.  Van  Riper  stressed  the  "improper"  objec- 
tives of  the  Klan  and  its  past  link  with  the  German-American  Bund. 
(Those  Knights  who  had  participated  with  members  of  the  Bund  in 
the  joint  meeting  at  Camp  Nordland  in  1940  were,  Van  Riper  noted, 
New  Jersey  leaders  of  the  Klan.)  Sitting  in  Trenton  on  October  10, 
1946,  State  Supreme  Court  Justice  A.  Dayton  Oliphant  ruled  "inopera- 
tive" a  perpetual  charter  granted  the  order  by  New  Jersey  in  1923. 

The  state  charter  granted  the  Klan  in  Wisconsin  in  1925  was  revoked 
in  December,  1946,  bu  Judge  Herman  V.  Sachtjen  in  Circuit  Court  in 
Madison,  Dane  County.  Sachtjen  announced  that  his  ruling  was  based 
on  findings  that  showed  that  the  secret  fraternity  stood  for  principles 
which  were  contrary  to  the  letter  and  spirit  of  both  the  state  and  federal 
constitutions. 

On  June  13,  1947,  the  Klan  voluntarily  surrendered  its  Georgia 
charter  in  Superior  Court  in  Atlanta,  Fulton  County.  The  secret  order 
acted  thus  only  after  the  state  had  deleted  from  an  original  charter  re- 
vocation suit  charges  of  murder,  flogging,  and  breach  of  the  public 
peace.  The  amended  suit  that  was  filed  declared  only  that  the  Klan  had 
forfeited  its  charter  privileges  because  it  had  been  incorporated  as  a 
benevolent  and  eleemosynary  organization,  whereas  actually  it  had 
operated  for  profit  to  itself  and  certain  of  its  members.  Governor 
M.  E.  Thompson  declared  himself  in  favor  of  prosecuting  the  suit 
against  the  Klan,  but  the  credit  for  the  revocation  of  the  Georgia  charter 
of  the  order  went  to  former  Governor  Ellis  Arnall,  who  in  May,  1946, 
had  directed  the  Attorney-General  to  begin  proceedings  to  that  end.2 

In  1949  Alabama  joined  the  other  states  in  curbing  the  Klan.  On  June 
28  of  that  year  Governor  James  E.  Folsom  signed  a  bill  prohibiting  the 
wearing  of  masks  in  public  and  immediately  announced  that  he  would 
issue  an  executive  order  calling  for  rigid  enforcement  of  the  new  law. 
The  state  legislature  had  given  almost  unanimous  approval  to  the 
unmasking  bill.  On  June  17  the  Senate  passed  the  bill  with  only  three 
"noes";  ten  days  later  the  House  of  Representatives  rushed  it  through 
in  four  minutes  by  a  vote  of  84  to  4.  Violators  of  the  law  were  subject 
to  a  $500  fine  or  one  year  in  jail. 

As  for  legal  action  against  the  Klan  by  representatives  of  govern- 
ment on  the  local  level,  twenty-two  southern  cities  had  by  the  begin- 
ning of  1950  outlawed  the  wearing  of  masks  in  public.  In  Atlanta, 
Georgia,  for  example,  the  City  Council  in  May,  1949,  by  a  unanimous 


114  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

vote  of  17  to  0  approved  an  ordinance  to  make  masking  one's  face  in 
public,  except  for  festive  occasions  such  as  Halloween,  an  offense  pun- 
ishable by  a  fine  of  $200  and  thirty  days  in  jail. 

From  1915  to  1944  all  Knights  owed  fealty  to  one  particular  mem- 
ber of  their  order — the  Imperial  Wizard.  It  is  true  that  in  1944  the 
Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  was  dissolved  because 
of  financial  reasons,  and  the  Association  of  Georgia  Klans  was  formed. 
But  as  Grand  Dragon  of  the  latter  organization,  Samuel  J.  Green  was 
the  one  individual  in  Klandom  to  whom  all  Knights  paid  homage. 
Just  as  soon  as  it  was  expedient,  in  August,  1949,  at  a  Klonvokation 
held  in  Atlanta,  Green  assumed  the  coveted  title  of  Imperial  Wizard. 
Barely  two  weeks  later,  while  working  in  his  garden,  he  succumbed  to 
a  heart  attack. 

Immediately  there  appeared  many  pretenders  to  the  throne  of 
Klandom,  each  seeking  the  land  of  allegiance  historically  due  him  as 
leader.  The  scramble  for  the  post  Green  left  vacant  resulted  in  ex- 
tensive injury  to  Klanism.  The  secret  order  splintered  into  many  rival 
groups,  each  considering  itself — or  at  least  advertising  as — the  direct 
spiritual  heir  of  the  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan 
founded  in  1915.  Before  1949  came  to  an  end,  the  number  of  Klans 
in  operation  approached  the  dozen  mark. 

The  Association  of  Georgia  Klans  was  not  destroyed  by  the  interne- 
cine competition;  it  survived,  in  fact,  as  the  largest  of  the  individual 
Klan  organizations.  Succeeding  Green  as  Imperial  Wizard  of  the 
Association  of  Georgia  Klans  on  August  27,  1949,  was  Samuel  W. 
Roper,  a  fifty-four  year  old  former  member  of  the  Atlanta  police  force, 
who  had  taken  a  leave  of  absence  in  1941-1942  to  serve  as  Director  of 
the  Georgia  Bureau  of  Investigation  under  Governor  Eugene  Talmadge.- 
Roper  had  joined  the  Klan  in  1921,  but  then  disaffiliated  himself  until 
the  Association  of  Georgia  Klans  was  formed  under  Green's  leadership 
in   1944. 

Roper  was  bequeathed  an  organization  containing  an  estimated  100,- 
000  members.  Two  months  after  taking  office,  Roper  said  he  had 
Kleagles  operating  in  ten  states,  and  correspondence  from  thirty-two 
other  states,  where  former  Knights  had  founded  individual  Klans  and 
were  seeking  affiliation  with  some  higher  body.  Upon  acceding  to 
the  Imperial  Wizardship,  Roper  announced  that  he  would  continue 
the  basic  policies  which  his  predecessor  had  ultimately  come  to 
follow;  that  is,  an  avowal  of  the  spirit  of  charity  toward  Negroes, 
Catholics,  and  Jews,8  plus  a  disavowal  of  the  practice  of  physically  dis- 
ciplining wrongdoers.     As  to  the  local  Klan's  reforming  of  personal 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  115 

conduct  in  the  community  in  which  it  existed,  Roper  declared  that  the 
chapter's  course  of  action  should  consist  of  reporting  the  delinquent 
and  his  sins  to  the  police,  while  at  the  same  time  giving  to  these  law 
authorities  its  full  moral  support. 

Impeding  to  some  extent  Roper's  program  of  expansion  during  its 
first  few  months  was  the  newly  organized  Federated  Ku  Klux  Klans, 
Inc.  Operating  in  the  state  of  Alabama,  its  head  was  Imperial  Wizard 
William  Hugh  Morris,  a  young  roofing  contractor  from  Birmingham. 
For  refusing  to  turn  over  membership  records  to  a  grand  jury  investi- 
gating an  outbreak  of  floggings  in  the  Birmingham  area,  Morris  spent 
sixty-seven  days  in  jail  in  the  summer  of  1949.  While  incarcerated,  he 
claimed  there  were  20,000  members  in  his  order,  and  predicted  that 
there  would  be  100,000  within  a  year,  as  a  manifestation  of  the  wide- 
spread arousement  among  Alabamans  over  his  martyrdom. 

A  threat  to  the  hegemony  of  Roper's  order  in  Georgia  and  Morris' 
in  Alabama  was  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  America.  On 
August  23,  1949,  in  Montgomery,  Alabama,  about  fifty  representatives 
of  splintered  Klan  groups  in  the  states  of  Tennessee,  Alabama,  Missis- 
sippi, Louisiana,  Arkansas,  and  Missouri  formed  this  organization, 
claiming  it  to  be  of  nationwide  proportions.  Consolidating  into  the 
Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  America  were  the  following  outfits: 
Independent  Klans,  Seashore  Klans,  Ozark  Klans,  Star  Klans,  River 
Valley  Klans,  and  Allied  Klans.  All  other  Klan  groups  were  asked  to 
join  this  pseudo-national  order.  Both  Roper's  Association  of  Georgia 
Klans  and  Morris'  Federated  Ku  Klux  Klans,  Inc.  rejected  the  invita- 
tion. 

Leading  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  America  as  Imperial 
Emperor  was  a  colorful  individual  with  a  name  to  match — Dr.  Lycur- 
gus  Spinks.4  Wearing  his  white  hair  down  to  his  shoulders,  covering 
himself  with  a  multitude  of  fraternal  pins,  addressing  every  male  except 
the  most  aged  as  "son,"  the  sixty-five  year  old  Spinks  was  the  leader 
of  an  individual  Klan  in  Thomasville,  Alabama,  ninety  miles  southwest 
of  Montgomery.  As  a  young  man  Spinks  had  become  a  Baptist  clergy- 
man, filling  posts  for  a  decade  in  the  Carolinas  and  Arkansas.  He 
was  later  expelled  from  the  ministry.  For  a  couple  of  years  he  earned 
a  reputation  as  a  sexologist,  delivering  "For  Men  Only"  and  "For 
Women  Only"  lectures.  It  was  during  this  period  of  his  career  that  he 
acquired  the  title  "doctor." 

Imperial  Emperor  Spinks  claimed  that  the  Knights  of  the  Ku 
Klux  Klan  of  America  started  with  a  membership  of  265,000.  This  fig- 
ure was  viewed  by  Spinks'  competitors  as  well  as  by  contemporary 


7  76  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

journalists  as  an  utterly  gross  exaggeration.  The  group  based  its  ideals 
directly  upon  the  native-born,  white,  Protestant  philosophy  of  the 
Klan  of  the  1920's.  It  did  go  on  record  as  opposed  to  the  wearing 
of  the  hood  in  public. 

In  addition  to  the  Roper,  Morris,  and  Spinks  Klans  was  a  multiplica- 
tion of  rather  shakily  constituted  orders.  Characteristic  of  each  of 
these  were  a  leadership  lacking  in  administrative  skill,  a  membership 
never  in  excess  of  a  few  thousand,  and — consequently — a  life  span 
that  was  short.  The  first  of  these  small  outfits  to  be  formed  was  the 
Original  Southern  Klans,  Inc.,  the  Invisible  Empire.  It  was  established 
by  two  chapters  bolted  from  the  Association  of  Georgia  Klans,  the 
ones  in  Columbus  and  nearby  Manchester.  The  head  of  this  organi- 
zation was  Grand  Wizard  Alton  Pate,  a  twenty-three  year  old  World 
War  II  veteran  and  Kligrapp  of  the  Columbus  chapter  of  the  Associa- 
tion of  Georgia  Klans  before  the  rift  had  occurred.  According  to  Pate, 
the  aims  of  this  order  were  the  following:  defense  of  Protestant  Ameri- 
canism, opposition  to  the  "blending"  of  the  white  race  with  another, 
prevention  of  political  dominance  by  "any  inferior  minority  group," 
and  resistance  to  the  "teachings  of  the  Communist  party  which  embody 
advocacy  of  sexual  equality  under  the  guise  of  social  equality."  Ritual- 
istically,  the  order  banned  the  wearing  of  the  hood  except  at  formal 
ceremonies  on  its  own  property. 

Farther  north  was'  the  Association  of  Carolina  Klans,  headed  by 
Grand  Dragon  Thomas  L.  Hamilton,  a  middle-aged  wholesale  grocer 
from  Leesville,  South  Carolina,  twenty-five  miles  west  of  Columbia. 
This  group  stood  for  "truth,  right,  and  justice" — and,  more  specifically, 
white  supremacy.  Terrorism  was  disavowed.  To  his  followers  Grand 
Dragon  Hamilton  charged,  "If  you  see  something  you  don't  like,  don't 
mob  up.  Tell  it  to  your  law-enforcement  officers.  That's  the  way  the 
Klan  wants  it."  Unfortunately,  members  of  the  Association  of  Carolina 
Klans,  including  the  Grand  Dragon  himself,  soon  dismissed  from  their 
minds  the  exhortation  against  "night-riding."  On  October  1,  1952, 
Hamilton  began  a  four-year  prison  term  for  having  masterminded  an 
extensive  program  of  terrorism.  Fifteen  of  his  followers  received 
sentences  averaging  three  years  each  and  forty-nine  others  were  fined 
a  total  of  $18,250. 

Giving  Imperial  Wizard  Morris  a  bit  of  trouble  in  Alabama  for  a 
few  months  was  a  seventy-two  year  old  physician  from  Birmingham 
named  E.  P.  Pruitt.  The  septuagenarian  organized  the  Federated 
Klans  of  Alabama,  after  having  resigned  from  the  Federated  Ku  Klux 
Klans,  Inc.  in  July,  1949,  over  a  row  with  Morris  regarding  the  wear- 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  117 

ing  of  the  hood  and  the  engaging  in  "night-riding."  Prnitt  was  active- 
ly opposed  to  both  practices.  Neither  was  to  have  a  place  in  his  new 
Federated  Klans  of  Alabama.  The  physician  even  went  so  far  as  to 
express  the  aim  of  discarding  the  robe.  Pruitt's  order  was  quite  short- 
lived. 

In  a  geographic  area  including  southern  Georgia,  northern  Florida, 
and  eastern  Alabama  another  Klan  was  functioning  by  the  fall  of  1949. 
Calling  itself  the  Original  Southern  Klans,  Inc.,  it  was  formed  by  a 
Columbus,  Georgia,  lawyer  named  Fred  New  and  a  radio  preacher 
named  Jack  Johnson.  The  New-Johnson  outfit  was  held  in  little  repute 
by  all  the  other  Klans  because  it  had  altered  much  of  the  ritual  and 
discarded  a  great  deal  of  the  phraseology  of  Klanism  as  worked  out  by 
Imperial  Wizard  Simmons  three  decades  before. 

Confined  to  the  state  of  Florida  was  the  Southern  Knights  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan.  Its  leader  was  Grand  Dragon  Bill  Hendrix,  a  building 
contractor  from  Tallahassee.  If  the  beliefs  of  this  outfit  can  be  ap- 
proached through  a  speech  delivered  by  its  Grand  Dragon  in  the  fall 
of  1951,  then  the  Southern  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  bitterly  opposed 
Negroes;  Jews;  Communists;  the  Congress  of  Industrial  Organizations; 
and  anything  that  smacked  of  liberalism,  including  people  such  as 
Eleanor  Roosevelt,  places  such  as  the  University  of  North  Carolina, 
and  things  such  as  the  Louisville  Courier- Journal. 

Also  operating  in  Florida  was  the  United  Klan.  This  group  was  led 
by  C.  L.  Parker,  a  furniture  dealer  from  River  Junction,  close  to  the 
Georgia  border.  One  hundred  thousand  members  made  up  his  order, 
Parker  claimed.  If  the  New- Johnson  body  was  held  in  low  esteem  by 
members  of  other  Klans  for  tampering  too  much  with  the  ornamental 
aspect  of  Klanism,  then  the  Parker  order  was  indescribably  loathed,  for 
it  desecrated  the  ideology.  In  October,  1953,  Parker  announced  that 
the  United  Klan  would  open  its  membership  to  Negroes!  This  was 
to  be  done,  he  quickly  explained,  as  a  pleasant  learning  experience  in 
the  worthwhileness  of  segregation.  Thus,  the  Negro  Knights  would 
be  ruled  by  Negro  Cyclopses  in  Negro  Klaverns.  To  join  the  United 
Klan  a  Negro  had  to  pay  $1  in  cash  and  take  an  oath  of  allegiance  to 
God  and  the  Constitution.  There  is  no  indication  that  the  United  Klan 
was  besieged  with  requests  for  application  forms  from  the  colored 
population. 

At  the  end  of  1949  there  was  reason  for  believing  that  there  would 
be  cohesion  in  Klanism  once  more.  \  On  November  22,  it  was  an- 
nounced that  as  a  direct  result  of  a  conference  between  Imperial 
Wizard  Roper  of  the  Association  of  Georgia  Klans  and  Imperial  Wizard 


178  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Morris  of  the  Federated  Ku  Klux  Klans,  Inc.,  these  two  orders  had 
reached  a  "working  agreement"  which  would  eventually  lead  to  con- 
solidation. Such  a  fusion  would  have  united  the  two  largest  Klans  in 
the  South,  leaving  the  small  splinter  groups  to  wend  their  respective 
ways  to  probable  extinction.  But  nothing  more  of  the  "working  agree- 
ment" was  heard  from  either  Roper  or  Morris.  Perhaps  the  latter 
began  to  have  misgivings  about  such  an  undertaking,  fearing  that  it 
would  quickly  turn  into  an  absorption  of  his  group  by  Roper's  much 
larger  one.  Whatever  the  reason,  consolidation  of  the  Association  of 
Georgia  Klans  and  the  Federated  Ku  Klux  Klans,  Inc.  never  took  place. 

Consequently,  Morris  turned  elsewhere  in  search  for  unity.  On 
December  18,  he,  Grand  Dragon  Hendrix  of  the  Southern  Knights  of 
the  Ku  Klux  Klan  and  Grand  Dragon  Hamilton  of  the  Association  of 
Carolina  Klans  announced  that  collectively  they  would  act  as  the 
"governing  body"  of  Klanism.  In  this  case  the  Federated  Ku  Klux 
Klans,  Inc.,  would  clearly  be  dominant.  But  this  proposed  consolida- 
tion also  never  materialized. 

During  the  early  1950's  there  were  indications  that  the  Klan  might 
disappear  permanently  from  the  American  scene.  As  any  search 
through  newspapers  and  magazines  of  the  period  will  show,  practi- 
cally the  only  activities  in  which  the  Klan  engaged  pertained  to  its 
role  of  self-appointed  protector  of  a  community's  morals  and  peace. 
Ostracism,  boycotting,  the  sending  of  threatening  letters,  "night-rid- 
ing" —  at  such  measures  the  press  scolded,  the  public  was  enraged. 
The  Klan  could  never  remain  in  existence  solely  as  a  maltreater  of 
erring  citizens. 

Quite  suddenly,  however,  in  1954,  the  order  took  a  new  lease  on  life. 
For  the  next  few  years  rapid  growth  was  the  keynote  of  Klanism.  In 
the  South  thousands  of  fiery  crosses  lighted  up  the  night.  By  1958 
there  were  well  over  100,000  new  Knights  and  more  than  500  new 
chapters  in  the  various  Klans.  The  reason?  On  May  17,  1954,  the 
Supreme  Court  outlawed  the  segregation  of  races  in  the  public  schools. 
The  following  year,  on  May  31,  1955,  this  tribunal  instructed  the  lower 
federal  courts  to  see  that  the  schools  made  "a  prompt  and  reasonable 
start"  toward  desegregation  and  proceeded  "with  all  deliberate  speed." 
In  the  mid-1930's  the  Klan  had  intentionally  sought  a  new  issue  (it 
soon  latched  on  to  anti-Communism)  upon  which  to  regain  its  former 
strength  —  and  failed.  In  the  mid-1950's  the  Klan  had  thrust  upon 
it  a  new  issue  —  and  thereby  was  able  to  resuscitate  temporarily.' 

In  manifesting  its  opposition  to  desegregation  the  Klan  used  various 
methods  and  techniques.    There  was  an  outburst  of  activity  in  Alabama. 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  H9 

In  September,  1956,  more  than  1,000  inhabitants  of  Montgomery  went 
to  a  baseball  grounds  parking  lot  to  listen  to  Klan  orators  advise  them 
how  to  resist  desegregation  of  any  kind.  Two  months  later  scores  of 
Knights  gathered  together  with  hundreds  of  Klan  sympathizers  at  an 
auto  race  track  just  outside  of  the  city  to  hear  the  Supreme  Court 
vigorously  denounced.  This  rally,  by  the  way,  was  preceded  by  a 
sidewalk  stroll  through  downtown  Montgomery  by  robed  Klansmen. 
At  the  very  end  of  1956  and  the  beginning  of  1957  there  was  an  out- 
break of  terrorism  in  the  city.  Bombed  were  Negro  churches  as  well 
as  homes  of  Negro  ministers  who  insistently  expressed  their  advocacy 
of  integration  of  the  races  in  the  use  of  public  facilities.  On  February 
10,  1957,  Chief  of  Police  G.  J.  Ruppenthal  announced  that  investigation 
showed  that  each  bombing  was  perpetrated  by  members  of  the  Klan. 

In  Birmingham,  in  August,  1956,  200  Knights,  under  the  blaze  of 
three  fiery  crosses,  held  a  rally  to  voice  their  collective  resistance  to 
the  Supreme  Court  ruling.  The  following  January  a  Klan  leader  told 
250  robed  figures  assembled  in  the  city  ( not  only  were  the  Knights  in 
costume,  but  also  their  spouses  and  offspring)  that  the  fraternity  would 
"not  give  another  inch  or  another  concession"  in  its  opposition  to 
desegregation. 

About  100  shouting,  horn-blowing  robed  members  of  the  Klan  in 
Mobile  drove  up  to  the  home  of  Mrs.  Dorothy  D.  Daponte  in  Septem- 
ber, 1956,  and  set  fire  to  a  cross  ten  feet  high  as  a  protest  against  her 
attempts  to  have  a  foster  daughter,  the  child  of  a  former  Negro 
domestic,  admitted  to  a  public  school  previously  attended  only  by 
whites. 

In  Florida,  less  than  two  weeks  after  the  May,  1954,  Supreme  Court 
decision,  Grand  Dragon  Bill  Hendrix  of  the  Southern  Knights  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan  resigned  from  his  fraternal  post  and  announced  his 
candidacy  for  the  governorship  on  a  pro-segregation  platform.  If 
elected,  "there  will  be  no  Negroes  going  to  white  schools  or  whites 
going  to  Negro  schools,"  he  promised.  His  plan  was  to  ask  for  write- 
in  votes  in  November.  Hendrix's  successor  as  Grand  Dragon  of  the 
Southern  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  instructed  his  underlings  to 
distribute  petitions  against  desegregation  in  the  schools  of  the  Sunshine 
State.  The  petitions  were  addressed  to  Acting  Governor  Charley 
Johnson,  the  State  Board  of  Education,  and  county  school  boards. 

Also  in  Florida,  in  July,  1956,  200  hooded  and  robed  members  of  the 
Klan  and  1,000  sympathizers  in  street  clothes  gathered  outside  of  Lake- 
land, twenty-five  miles  northeast  of  Tampa,  to  protest  any  move  what- 
ever toward  school  desegregation.     During  the  course  of  the  rally 


120  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

hillbilly  music  was  played,  a  cross  was  set  ablaze,  perfervid  speeches 
were  delivered  by  three  Knights,  and  3,000  application  forms  were 
distributed  to  the  non-Klan  spectators.  The  following  month,  in  an 
open  field  just  south  of  Starke,  while  500  spectators  witnessed  the  event 
from  behind  a  roped  off  area,  125  hooded  and  robed  Knights  cheered 
one  of  their  leaders  lustily  as  he  denounced  the  Supreme  Court. 

On  September  29,  1956,  in  a  pasture  not  far  from  Atlanta,  Georgia, 
the  Klan  held  its  biggest  rally  since  the  advent  of  World  War  II.  More 
than  3,500  Knights  from  at  least  five  southern  states,  accompanied  by 
their  wives  and  children,  heard  leaders  emphasize  that  their  order 
would  stay  within  "laws  that  are  just"  in  its  battle  against  desegregation. 

The  football  field  of  a  public  high  school  attended  only  by  whites 
in  Summerville,  Georgia,  which  lies  in  the  extreme  northwestern  part 
of  the  state,  was  ordered  padlocked  in  November,  1956,  against  use 
by  two  teams  from  all-Negro  schools  following  a  protest  by  a  purported 
Klan  leader  of  the  area.  The  game  had  been  arranged  by  the  local 
Junior  Chamber  of  Commerce  to  raise  funds  for  the  white  high  school 
band. 

In  July,  1956,  a  Methodist  church  school  in  Camden,  South  Carolina, 
thirty  miles  northeast  of  Columbia,  was  forced  to  close  down  because 
of  possible  violence  against  the  integrated  group  of  fifteen  students 
in  attendance.  There  had  been  a  rash  of  anonymous  telephone  calls 
to  the  church  authorities  threatening  to  blow  up  the  building  or  burn 
it  down.  In  addition,  a  cross  had  been  burned  in  front  of  the  school. 
The  mayor  of  the  town,  Henry  Savage,  publicly  blamed  the  entire 
incident  on  a  revival  of  Klanism  since  the  Supreme  Court  ruling. 
Camden  was  not  to  see  the  end  of  agitation  over  the  segregation  issue. 
Less  than  a  half  year  later  Guy  Hutchins,  the  band  director  of  the 
local  all-white  high  school,  was  flogged  by  a  group  of  men  for  allegedly 
preaching  integration  in  public  institutions  of  learning.  Of  the  six 
men  arrested  for  the  act  of  terrorism,  at  least  one  admitted  being  a 
member  of  the  Klan. 

Two  mass  meetings  were  held  on  July  28,  1956,  in  South  Carolina, 
one  at  Columbia  and  the  other  at  Hartsville,  sixty  miles  away.  Hooded 
and  robed  Knights  denounced  the  Supreme  Court  and  desegregation. 
At  the  Hartsville  rally  a  Klan  orator  who  identified  himself  to  members 
of  the  press  only  as  a  "country  preacher  from  down  the  road"  called 
President  Dwight  D.  Eisenhower  a  "low-down  scoundrel"  for  having 
carried  out  after  World  War  II,  as  Chief  of  Staff  of  the  United  States 
Army,  integration  in  his  branch  of  the  service. 

In  March,  1958,  three  members  of  the  Klan  in  North  Carolina  were 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  121 

sentenced  to  prison  for  terms  varying  from  two  to  ten  years.  The  ac- 
tion taken  against  them  was  the  end  result  of  the  manner  in  which 
these  Knights  protested  against  desegregation  in  the  Tar  Heel  State  — 
attempting  to  bomb,  on  February,  1957,  a  Negro  elementary  school 
outside  of  Charlotte. 

The  Klan  was  not  the  only  organization  to  resist  desegregation  in 
the  public  schools  of  the  South.  Two  months  after  the  May  17,  1954, 
Supreme  Court  decision,  there  was  formed  in  Indianola,  Mississippi, 
a  hamlet  which  lies  close  to  the  Arkansas  border,  the  White  Citizens 
Council.  Within  a  year  branches  of  the  new  outfit  sprang  up  all  over 
Dixie.  By  1957  the  White  Citizens  Council  had  some  300,000  members 
in  more  than  500  chapters.  Its  strongest  backing  came  from  the  Deep 
South,  where  the  ratio  of  Negroes  to  whites  has  always  been  high. 
The  state  of  Mississippi  alone,  for  example,  contained  more  than  one- 
fourth  of  the  membership  of  the  Council. 

It  would  be  well  to  contrast  the  Council  with  the  Klan.  First,  from 
the  very  beginning  the  Council  carried  out  its  program  in  the  open. 
Public  auditoriums  and  theaters  were  used  for  meetings.  Members 
made  no  attempt  to  shield  from  others  their  affiliation  with  the  group. 
Second,  in  striving  to  create  an  image  of  "respectability,"  it  studiously 
avoided  extremism.  There  was  to  be  no  donning  of  regalia,  engaging 
in  ritual,  or  participating  in  terrorism.  Third,  as  a  result  of  the  preced- 
ing policies  it  enlisted  the  support  of  the  most  esteemed  citizens. 
Among  those  who  joined  the  Council  were,  for  example,  the  following: 
in  Louisiana  a  state  senator,  a  state  university  board  supervisor,  and  a 
former  president  of  the  state  medical  association;  in  Alabama  three 
state  senators  and  the  mayor  of  Montgomery;  in  North  Carolina  several 
leading  industrialists,  three  former  Speakers  of  the  state  Assembly,  a 
state  university  medical  school  professor,  and  a  former  United  States 
Attorney. 

Did  these  basic  differences  between  the  Council  and  the  Klan  pre- 
clude all  intercourse?  The  answer  is  "no."  Much  of  the  anti-integra- 
tion literature  distributed  by  the  two  organizations  was  identical. 
Also,  in  many  localities  individuals  belonged  to  both  groups  at  the 
same  time.  The  secretary-treasurer  of  the  Association  of  White  Cit- 
izens Councils  of  Florida,  Homer  Barrs,  said  in  an  interview,  "We  don't 
bar  Klan  members  from  joining  the  Councils.  Any  white  person  who 
does  not  belong  to  the  NAACP  is  eligible."  Then,  too,  Council  leaders 
addressed  Klan  meetings.  Doing  more  of  this  than  anyone  else  was 
John  Kasper,  secretary  of  the  White  Citizens  Council  of  Washington, 
D.  C.     He  appeared  before  groups  of  Knights  —  in  Alabama  in  the 


122  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

fall  of  1956,  in  Florida  in  the  spring  of  1957,  in  Tennessee  in  the 
summer  of  1957  —  to  urge  the  Klan  to  co-operate  with  the  Council 
in  preaching  the  "segregation  gospel."8 

While  the  battle  against  desegregation  in  the  public  schools  of  the 
South  was  taking  place,  the  multiplication  of  Klans  was  going  on. 
There  seemed  to  be  a  spewing  forth!  By  1958  there  were  so  many 
different  splinter  groups  that  the  tabulation  of  them  is  unreliable.  The 
f actionalism  that  resulted  was  more  than  a  lack  of  centralized  authority 
in  Klanism;  it  was  internecine  warfare. 

The  dominant  organization  was  the  U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku 
Klux  Klan.  Its  head  was  Imperial  Wizard  Eldon  Lee  Edwards,  a 
forty-eight  year  old  paint  sprayer  at  an  automobile  body  plant  in 
Atlanta.  Edwards'  order  was  the  direct  descendant  of  the  Association 
of  Georgia  Klans  that  had  been  led  by  Imperial  Wizards  Green  and 
Roper.  In  1950  Edwards  assumed  leadership  of  the  Association  of 
Georgia  Klans,  reorganized  it  slightly,  and  renamed  it  the  U.  S.  Klans, 
Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan. 

Outside  the  home  state  of  Georgia,  Edwards'  order  was  most  active 
in  South  Carolina,  Alabama,  and  Louisiana.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  the 
Grand  Dragon  of  the  U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  in  each 
of  these  states  wielded  more  power  and  earned  a  greater  reputation 
than  the  actual  heads  of  the  other  Klan  groups  in  existence.  The 
Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  South  Carolina  was  James  H.  Bickley, 
a  carpenter  from  Marion,  close  to  the  North  Carolina  border.  Within 
three  months  after  taking  office,  he  increased  the  number  of  chapters 
in  the  Palmetto  State  from  twenty  to  thirty-five.  "I  ain't  got  nothing 
against  niggers,"  Bickley  remarked  on  one  occasion.  "I  don't 
believe  most  of  them  would  be  causing  any  trouble  if  it  wasn't 
for  the  NAACP  and  the  Jews.  I  understand  there  are  a  lot  of  Com- 
munists .  .  .  trying  to  get  us  to  integrate  with  the  niggers  so  we'll  breed 
down  the  race." 

The  Grand  Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Alabama  was  Alvin  Horn,  an 
electrical  worker  and  self-proclaimed  Baptist  minister  from  Talladega, 
fifty  miles  east  of  Birmingham.  When  he  assumed  his  duties  as  Grand 
Dragon  in  the  summer  of  1956,  there  were  but  two  chapters  of  the 
U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  in  Alabama.  Less  than  a 
year  later  there  were  more  than  100. 

A  Baton  Rouge  welder  named  Edgar  Taylor  was  the  Grand  Dragon 
of  the  Realm  of  Louisiana.  "The  niggers  are  the  main  thing  with  us 
now,"  Taylor  told  a  journalist  in  the  spring  of  1957.  "We  are  not 
fighting  Jews  and  Catholics  except  where  they  help  the  niggers." 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  123 

On  a  nationwide  television  program  in  1957  Imperial  Wizard  Ed- 
wards maintained  that  "God  Almighty  created  the  races  and  segregated 
them,  sent  them  each  on  their  own  destiny."  As  for  his  Klan's  program 
of  opposition  to  desegregation  in  the  schools,  violence  in  any  form 
would  be  shunned. 

Edwards  refused  to  divulge  the  numerical  strength  of  his  Klan,  giv- 
ing as  a  reason  the  fact  that  it  was  a  secret  fraternity.  The  member- 
ship was  estimated  by  contemporary  observers  to  be  about  50,000. 
Whatever  the  size  of  the  U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  it 
was  the  largest  of  all  the  orders.  Edwards  asserted  that  it  was 
the  "one  true  Klan."  The  other  organizations  were  "outlaws  and  coun- 
terfeiters." But  verbalization  on  the  part  of  the  Imperial  Wizard  — 
however  emphatic  it  may  have  been  —  could  not  check  the  luxuriance 
of  Klans. 

The  largest  order  next  to  the  U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan  was  the  Florida  Ku  Klux  Klan,  with  a  membership  of  about 
30,000.  Somewhere  at  the  top  of  the  hierarchy  of  this  organization 
was  J.  E.  Fraser,  a  nurseryman  from  Macclenny,  twenty-five  miles 
west  of  Jacksonville.  Reputed  to  be  the  leader  of  the  Florida  Ku  Klux 
Klan  as  Grand  Wizard,  Fraser  consistently  denied  holding  that  office, 
but  at  the  same  time  maintained  that  he  could  always  speak  for  the 
individual  who  did.  According  to  Fraser,  the  Florida  Ku  Klux  Klan 
stood  for  white  supremacy,  segregation,  and  "upholding  the  law." 
"There's  plenty  of  ways  to  do  things  within  the  law  and  sometimes  we 
have  to  straighten  up  the  officials,"  he  said.  "Fellow  sells  his  house 
to  a  nigger  in  a  white  neighborhood  and  we  just  spread  the  word.  He 
loses  his  business  and  his  friends.  That  .  .  .  boy  better  just  get  out  of 
this  state." 

Probably  next  in  size  was  the  Association  of  South  Carolina  Klans  \ 
The  name  of  the  head  of  this  group  was  kept  from  the  public.  Acting 
as  spokesman  for  it  was  the  Kligrapp  of  the  chapter  in  Columbia, 
Robert  E.  Hodges.  A  student  at  a  business  college  in  that  city,  the 
twenty-four  year  old  Hodges  declared  that  the  activities  of  the  Associa- 
tion of  South  Carolina  Klans  were  directed  primarily  against  Negroes, 
but  also  against  Catholics  and  Jews  whenever  the  latter  two  made 
efforts  to  help  Negroes  achieve  civil  rights  or  social  equality. 

Operating  at  opposite  ends  of  Alabama  were  two  small  but  ex- 
tremely aggressive  organizations.  In  the  northern  part  of  the  state 
was  the  Original  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the  Confederacy,  led  by  Asa  Carter, 
a  young  radio  announcer  from  Birmingham  who  had  been  expelled 
from  the  White  Citizens  Council  for  his  extremist  activities.    Perhaps 


124  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

the  most  violent  of  all  the  orders,  the  Original  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the 
Confederacy  conducted  blood-rite  initiation  ceremonies,  sanctioned  the 
carrying  of  weapons  by  its  members,  and  directed  extraordinarily 
abusive  harangues  against  Negroes,  Catholics,  and  Jews. 

In  the  southern  part  of  Alabama  the  Gulf  Ku  Klux  Klan  carried  on. 
Heading  it  as  Imperial  Wizard  was  a  gunsmith  from  Mobile  named 
Elmo  C.  Barnard.  According  to  him,  the  Gulf  Ku  Klux  Klan  stood  for 
free  speech,  a  free  press,  free  public  schools,  white  supremacy,  "just" 
laws,  "the  pursuit  of  happiness,"  and  American  rejection  of  foreign 
creeds.  Barnard  condemned  terrorism  as  basic  policy  for  any  group, 
but  said  a  "little  violence"  might  have  to  be  resorted  to  in  resolving 
the  conflict  between  Negroes  and  whites. 

Across  the  Mississippi  River  in  Louisiana  was  an  ineffectual  group 
called  the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  led  by  the  Rev.  Perry  E. 
Strickland,  the  founder  of  the  Central  Baptist  Mission  just  outside  of 
Baton  Rouge.  Strickland  stated  that  some  Catholics  who  were  opposed 
to  desegregation  of  the  races  in  the  public  schools  attempted  to  join 
his  order,  but  were  unhesitatingly  turned  down.  "We  need  a  white 
Protestant  group  based  on  American  principles,"  the  minister  con- 
cluded. 

A  triology  of  Klans  functioned  in  Arkansas.  In  addition  to  two 
small  groups,  the  Association  of  Arkansas  Klans  and  the  Original  Ku 
Klux  Klan,  was  Edwards'  order,  with  A.  C.  Hightower,  a  barber  by 
trade,  acting  as  Grand  Dragon.  According  to  Hightower,  his  fol- 
lowers were  "strictly  law-abiding  citizens."8 

Just  as  Klanism  was  vivified  in  1954  by  the  occurrence  of  an  outside 
event,  the  Supreme  Court  decision  on  segregation,  so  to  a  lesser  extent 
was  it  in  1960.  For  on  July  13  of  that  year,  in  Los  Angeles,  California, 
the  national  convention  of  the  Democratic  party  chose  as  its  nominee 
for  the  presidency  a  Catholic,  Senator  John  F.  Kennedy  of  Massachu- 
setts. Fiery  crosses  were  soon  in  evidence  throughout  Dixie.  There 
were  at  night  Klan  parades  and  rallies.  Before  long,  in  some  cities  of 
the  Deep  South  Knights  even  dared  to  walk  the  streets  in  broad  day- 
light wearing  their  hoods  and  robes.  What  effect  did  the  activity  of 
the  Klan  have  upon  the  outcome  of  the  ensuing  election?  To  give  as 
complete  an  answer  as  possible,  it  would  be  well  to  compare  the 
presidential  campaign  of  1960  with  the  one  of  1928,  in  which  the 
Democratic  standard-bearer  also  was  a  Catholic,  Governor  Alfred  E. 
Smith  of  New  York. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  find  the  reasons  for  the  defeat  of  the  Democratic 
candidate  in  1928.    In  addition  to  the  existence  of  a  belief  on  the  part 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  125 

of  many  that  the  general  prosperity  of  the  times  would  soon  disappear 
without  Republican  rule,  there  was  widespread  opposition  to  Smith 
because  of  his  anti-prohibitionism,  his  Tammany  connections,  his 
"alienism,"  and  his  Catholicism. 

Nineteen  sixty  was  different.  Kennedy  was  not  a  "wet"  who  had 
incurred  the  wrath  of  the  Anti-Saloon  League  and  Woman's  Christian 
Temperance  Union.  He  was  not  associated  with  a  local  party  organiza- 
tion known  for  its  flagrant  political  abuses.  He  did  not  represent  the 
"alienism"  of  a  metropolis;  neither  did  he  even  give  an  appearance  of 
so  doing,  for  he  was  rich,  well-educated,  handsomely  fair,  tastefully 
groomed,  cultivated  in  speech.  Kennedy  was,  however,  a  Catholic. 
The  standard-bearer  of  the  Democratic  party  in  1928  failed  to  win  the 
election  not  because  of  his  Catholicism.  Still,  his  religious  affiliation 
was  unquestionably  a  factor  in  the  defeat.  In  1960  many  a  non- 
Catholic  voter  was  ready  to  cast  a  ballot  for  a  Catholic  presidential 
nominee  whose  party,  record,  and  campaign  promises  were  to  his 
liking.  The  West  Virginia  Democratic  presidential  primary  of  May 
10,  1960,  offers  a  superb  illustration  of  this.  Facing  the  voters  were 
Kennedy  and  the  Protestant  Senator  Hubert  Humphrey  of  Minnesota, 
each  comparable  to  the  other  in  youth,  personableness,  and  legislative 
voting  record.  The  pollsters  anticipated  Kennedy's  defeat  on  the 
religious  issue.  When  the  final  returns  were  in,  he  had  won  handily, 
receiving  235,738  votes  to  Humphrey's  149,214.  The  surprising  victory 
took  place  for  many  reasons.  Compared  with  the  Humphreyites,  the 
Kennedy  forces  spent  a  considerably  greater  amount  of  money;  were 
much  more  efficiently  organized;  and  had  Franklin  D.  Roosevelt,  Jr., 
stump  the  state  to  convince  the  miners,  the  vast  majority  of  whom 
looked  back  on  the  New  Deal  with  nostalgia,  that  the  Senator  from 
Massachusetts  was  the  spiritual  descendant  of  F.  D.  R.  Most  political 
observers  considered  Kennedy  himself  to  be  the  biggest  factor  in  the 
landslide.  One  popular  news  magazine  had  this  to  say:  "His  easy 
manner,  serious  speeches  and  kinetic  charm,  his  decision  to  fight  out 
the  religious  issue,  and  even  his  Harvard  accent — all  won  respect  and 
votes." 

\  It  is  difficult  to  assess  the  effect  of  Klan  activity  upon  the  outcome 
of  the  election  of  1928,  for  there  were  other  influential  groups  as  well  as 
prominent  religious  figures  and  bolting  Democratic  leaders  attacking 
Smith  for  one  or  more  of  the  same  reasons  as  were  given  by  the  secret 
fraternity  for  its  opposition  to  the  Democratic  candidate.  [ 

Ninteen  sixty  was  similar.  Along  with  the  Klan  were  organizations 
and  individuals  hostile  to  Kennedy  for  the  very  same  reasons;  namely, 


126  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

his  Catholicism  and  his  stand  on  civil  rights.  The  Democratic  national 
convention  adopted  for  1960  a  civil  rights  plank  that  reached  far  beyond 
anything  on  this  issue  included  in  any  previous  platform  of  either  major 
political  party.  According  to  the  plank,  the  Democratic  party  en- 
dorsed the  "equal  access  for  all  Americans  to  all  areas  of  community 
life,  including  voting  booths,  schoolrooms,  jobs,  housing  and  public 
facilities";  advocated  that  the  Attorney-General  be  "directed  to  file  civil 
injunction  suits  in  federal  courts  to  prevent  the  denial  of  any  civil 
rights  on  grounds  of  race,  creed  or  color";  and  proposed  the  establish- 
ment of  a  federal  Fair  Employment  Practices  Commission  to  "secure 
for  everyone  the  right  to  equal  opportunity  for  employment."  In 
accepting  the  nomination  of  his  party,  Kennedy  declared,  "This  is  a 
platform  on  which  I  can  run  with  enthusiasm  and  with  conviction." 
Taking  an  active  part  in  the  effort  to  swing  certain  of  the  customarily 
Democratic  states  to  the  standard-bearer  of  the  Republican  party, 
Vice-President  Richard  M.  Nixon,  were,  for  example,  such  organiza- 
tions as  the  White  Citizens  Council;  the  Church  of  Christ,  a  Fundamen- 
talist denomination  centered  in  Tennessee;  and  the  Citizens  for  Religi- 
ous Freedom,8  and  such  individuals  as  Dr.  Baines  M.  Cook,  the  chief 
administrator  of  the  activities  of  the  Disciples  of  Christ;  and  Dr. 
Ramsey  Pollard,  President  of  the  Southern  Baptist  Convention. 

As  for  southern  Democratic  leaders,  not  one  came  out  publicly 
against  the  titular  head  of  his  party  because  he  was  Catholic,  as 
Senator  J.  Thomas  Heflin  of  Alabama  had  done  thirty-two  years  before. 
But  the  Democratic  politicians  of  Dixie  were  unhappy — extremely  un- 
happy— with  Kennedy's  position  on  civil  rights.  Nixon  was  enthusias- 
tically welcomed  in  Georgia  by  Mayor  William  B.  Hartsfield  of  At- 
lanta and  quite  popular  former  gubernatorial  candidate  James  V. 
Carmichael,  the  latter  going  so  far  as  to  pledge  publicly  his  sup- 
port of  the  Republican  presidential  nominee.  Senator  Harry  F.  Byrd 
of  Virginia  failed  to  give  the  nod  to  Kennedy.  Senator  J.  Strom  Thur- 
mond of  South  Carolina  declared  that  he  could  abide  neither  the 
party's  "obnoxious  and  punitive"  platform  nor  its  standard-bearer. 
James  F.  Byrnes,  who  during  the  course  of  his  career  served  as 
Associate  Justice  of  the  Supreme  Court,  Secretary  of  State  under 
Truman,  and  Governor  of  his  home  state  of  South  Carolina,  con- 
demned the  civil  rights  plank  of  the  party's  platform  and  announced 
himself  for  the  Republican  ticket.  After  sitting  on  their  hands  for  al- 
most three  months  after  the  Democratic  convention  was  held,  Senators 
Herman  Talmadge  and  Richard  B.  Russell  of  Georgia  raised  them 
gingerly  in  favor  of  their  colleague  from  Massachusetts.     Meeting  on 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  727 

September  20,  in  Dallas,  the  Texas  Democratic  convention  adopted  a 
plank  in  its  state  platform  that  was  diametrically  opposed  to  the  civil 
rights  plank  in  the  party's  national  platform.  Not  until  the  end  of 
September,  at  the  twenty-sixth  annual  Southern  Governors  Conference, 
did  ten  of  the  chief  executives  of  states  south  of  the  Mason-Dixon 
line  abandon  their  lukewarm  stand  during  the  campaign  to  give  full 
support  to  Kennedy. 

It  is  most  difficult  to  prove  that  playing  a  determining  role  in  the 
presidential  election  of  1928  was  an  order  that  had  recently  been 
censured  by  the  American  public  for  its  excesses,  lost  its  political 
potency,  and  suffered  a  sharp  drop  in  membership.  If  the  Klan  was 
indeed  a  factor  in  the  desertion  of  almost  half  the  "Solid  South"  to  the 
Republican  candidate,  Herbert  Hoover,  then  it  was  not  the  substance 
but  the  spirit  of  the  fraternity  that  made  it  so. 

Nineteen  sixty?  There  are  scattered  examples  of  the  Klan's  en- 
gaging in  political  activity  of  national  significance.  In  1958  Imperial 
Wizard  Edwards'  order,  the  U.S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan, 
worked  in  Alabama  for  the  election  of  John  Patterson  to  the  highest 
office  in  the  state.  Patterson  realized  his  gubernatorial  aspirations. 
When,  months  before  the  Democratic  national  convention  of  1960,  he 
endorsed  Kennedy  as  his  personal  choice  for  the  presidency,  he  was 
visited  by  a  thirty-two  man  delegation  headed  by  the  Kladd  of  the  Klan 
in  Prattville,  just  outside  of  Montgomery.  The  Alabama  chief  ex- 
ecutive was  asked  if  it  had  ever  occurred  to  him  that  he  was 
"being  used  as  a  guinea  pig  by  the  Communist-Jewish  integrators" 
to  sample  the  political  sentiment  of  the  South  for  the  Senator  from 
Massachusetts.  And  just  before  the  conclusion  of  the  presidential  cam- 
paign, representatives  of  various  chapters  of  the  U.S.  Klans,  Knights 
of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  in  the  Gulf  state  attended  a  meeting  held  in  the 
Tuscaloosa  County  courthouse,  at  which  the  newly  appointed  Grand 
Dragon  of  the  Realm  of  Alabama,  Bob  Shelton,  exhorted,  "Klansmen 
should  stay  away  from  Kennedy  and  keep  an  eye  on  John  Patterson. 
. . .  They  are  the  tools  of  the  Jews." 

Klan  leaders  in  Florida  spoke  out.  The  Grand  Dragon  of  the 
U.S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  in  that  state,  William  J.  Griffin, 
announced  himself  in  September,  1960,  for  the  nominee  of  the 
G.  O.  P.10  Boosting  Governor  Orval  E.  Faubus  of  Arkansas  for  the 
presidency  on  the  National  States'  Rights  ticket  was  Bill  Hendrix,  who 
was  once  more  head  of  the  Southern  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  as 
Grand  Dragon,  after  having  resigned  from  his  fraternal  post  in  1954 
to  run  for  the  governorship  of  Florida  on  a  pro-segregation  platform. 


128  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

In  a  communication  sent  out  to  every  member  of  the  Association  of 
South  Carolina  Klans,  Robert  E.  Hodges,  the  Kligrapp  of  the  chapter  in 
Columbia,  declared:  "You  cannot  afford  to  support  or  vote  for  anyone 
or  group  that  represents  the  Roman  Catholic  Church.  To  do  so  is  to 
vote  against  your  God,  and  Savior,  and  your  church,  your  country 
and  even  yourself  since  the  Catholic  Church  is  directly  opposed  to 
Protestant  churches,  your  America,  and  especially  you  as  a  Protestant. . 
Heaven  help  your  soul  if  you  vote  away  your  religious  liberty  ..." 

In  the  Upper  South,  John  Kasper  of  the  White  Citizens  Council 
went  before  many  Klan  groups  to  attack  Kennedy's  candidacy.  If  the 
Senator  from  Massachusetts  happened  to  be  successful  in  his  bid  for 
the  presidency,  Kasper  iterated,  he  should  be  "impeached  before  the 
sun  rises." 

The  presidential  election  of  1960  turned  out  to  be  the  closest  in 
modern  times.  Kennedy  won  the  electoral  vote  of  the  southern  half 
of  New  England,  the  Middle  Atlantic  states,  plus  most  of  the  "Solid 
South";  Nixon  carried  four  states  of  Dixie — Virginia,  Kentucky,  Ten- 
nessee, and  Florida,12  nearly  all  of  the  north  central  and  mountain 
states,  'plus  the  entire  Pacific  coast.  In  popular  votes,  Kennedy 
received  34,221,355  to  Nixon's  34,109,398.  This  was  a  plurality  for 
the  Democrat  of  111,957  over  his  opponent,  representing  less  than 
two-tenths  of  1  per  cent  of  the  total  number  of  votes  cast — the  smallest 
percentage  difference  between  the  popular  votes  of  two  presidential 
candidates  since  the  election  of  1884. 

The  effectiveness  of  the  political  proceedings  by  the  secret  order 
during  the  campaign  is  problematical.  The  Klan  declined  in  power  as 
Election  Day,  November  8,  1960,  approached.  There  are  two  basic 
reasons  for  this,  in  addition  to  widespread  public  repulsion  at  the 
terrorism  of  the  order.  First,  the  White  Citizens  Council,  in  its  shun- 
ning all  extremist  measures,  lured  away  from  the  Klan  the  vast 
majority  of  Southerners  desiring  to  join  an  organization  that  would 
battle  for  the  status  quo  in  racial  matters.  Second,  the  Klan  was 
literally  being  ripped  apart  by  the  continual  formation  of  splinter 
groups.  By  1960  the  number  of  separate  orders  was  not  even  definitely 
known;  it  was  changing  too  frequently.  A  high-ranking  Knight  in 
Florida  pointed  out  that  there  were  so  many  different  Klan  groups 
in  existence  that  the  old  passwords  and  counter-signs  were  unusable. 
One  southern  newspaper  tittered  that  so  many  Klans  were  operating 
in  Dixie  that  it  was  "impossible  to  tell  the  Grand  Dragons,  Wizards, 
and  Kleagles  apart  without  a  program." 

Thus,  if  the  Klan  was  a.  factor  in  the  desertion  of  a  portion  of  the 


A  SPLINTERED  BODY  729 

"Solid  South"  to  the  Republican  nominee  in  the  presidential  election 
of  1960,  then  it  was  the  spirit  and  not  the  substance  of  the  secret  order 
that  made  it  so — as  had  been  the  case  in  the  presidential  election 
of  1928. 


REFERENCES 

Chapter  I 

1.  The  Ku  Klux  Klan,  67  Cong.,  1  Sess.  (Washington,  1921),  121,  contains 
this  description  of  the  elements  as  recollected  by  William  Joseph  Simmons.  A 
stenographic  record  of  the  hearings  on  Klan  activities  held  before  the  House  Com- 
mittee on  Rules,  October  11-17,  1921,  this  will  be  cited  hereafter  as  Klan  Hearings. 

2.  It  appears  that  Simmons  was  at  one  point  discharged  for  inefficiency  as  a 
salesman  of  men's  garters. 

3.  Klan  Hearings,  67-68. 

4.  In  Klan  Hearings,  67,  appears  the  following  statement  by  Simmons:  "They 
call  me  'Colonel,'  largely  out  of  respect.  Every  lawyer  in  Georgia  is  called  'Colo- 
nel,' so  they  thought  that  I  was  as  good  as  a  lawyer,  so  they  call  me  that.  ...  I 
was  at  one  time  the  senior  colonel  in  command  of  five  regiments  and  colonel  of 
my  own  regiment  of  the  uniform  rank  of  the  Woodmen  of  the  World,  and  I  was 
known  as  'Colonel.'  I  have  used  that  title  on  certain  literature  of  the  klan  for 
the  reason  that  there  are  three  other  'W.  J.  Simmonses'  in  Adanta,  and  for  some 
time  our  mail  got  confused.  It  is  merely  a  designation.  They  accord  it  to  me 
as  an  honor  and  I  appreciate  it." 

5.  Klansman's  Manual,  Compiled  and  Issued  Under  Direction  and  Authority  of 
the  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  Incorporated  (n.p.,  1924),  chap.  Ill,  sec.  II.  For 
detailed  information  on  the  operation  of  the  local  Klan  chapter,  see  the  pamphlet, 
Klan  Building.  An  Outline  of  Proven  Klan  Methods  for  Successfully  Applying 
the  Art  of  Klankraft  in  Building  and  Operating  Local  Klans  (Atlanta,  1923). 

6.  See  Kloran,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan:  First  Degree  Character  (Atlanta, 
1916),  which  was  undoubtedly  written  by  Simmons.  The  pamphlet,  Delivery  of 
Chapter.  Issued  by  Imperial  Palace,  Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux 
Klan  (Atlanta,  1923),  also  sets  forth  the  order  of  the  Klonklave. 

7.  These  were  all  duly  copyrighted  in  Simmons's  name.  Years  later  he  received 
from  the  Klan  a  great  sum  of  money  for  these  copyrights. 

8.  "Many  wise  men,"  Simmons  once  stated,  "have  puzzled  over  that  motto. 
They  said  it  wasn't  Latin  and  it  wasn't  Greek.  I  made  the  motto  up  myself.  It's 
part  Latin  and  part  Saxon.  'Non'  and  'sed,'  of  course,  are  Latin.  But  I  was 
reliably  informed  that  'Silba'  is  an  old  Saxon  word  meaning  'self  and  'anthar' 
means  'others.'  So,  you  see,  'Not  for  self,  but  for  others.'  Simple  enough."  In 
William  G.  Shepherd,  "How  I  Put  Over  the  Klan,"  Colliers,  July  14,  1928,  p.  32. 

9.  Winfield  Jones,  The  True  Story  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  (n.p.,  1921),  52,  states 
that  Simmons  did  get  appreciable  assistance  from  three  men:  Imperial  Kligrapp 
Louis  D.  Wade,  a  cotton  mill  superintendent;  Imperial  Klabee  H.  C.  Montgomery, 
an  Atlanta  optician;  and  "Imperial  Klonsel,"  or  legal  advisor,  Paul  S.  Etheridge, 
a  lawyer  and  member  of  the  Fulton  County  Board  of  Commissioners  of  Roads  and 
Revenues. 

10.  Klan  Hearings,  69. 

730 


REFERENCES  737 

11.  For  the  text  of  the  contract,  see  Klan  Hearings,  32. 

12.  Quoted  in  "For  and  Against  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,"  The  Literary  Digest, 
September  24,  1921,  p.  38. 

13.  For  a  list  of  all  the  Kleagles  active  at  this  time,  see  New  York  World, 
September  9,  1921,  p.  2. 

14.  Atlanta  remained  the  lead  city  of  Klan  activity  until  1928,  when  the  organi- 
zation established  a  new  national  headquarters  in  Washington,  D.  C. 

15.  Testimony  of  Simmons  in  Case  1897  in  Equity  (1927),  U.  S.  District  Court, 
Pittsburgh. 

16.  Stanley  Frost,  "When  the  Klan  Rules,"  The  Outlook,  December  26,  1923, 
p.  717.  Frost's  study  of  the  Klan  appears  in  eleven  consecutive  issues  of  The 
Outlook. 

17.  In  Edward  Price  Bell,  Creed  of  the  Klansman  (Chicago,  1924),  8,  appears 
a  defense  Evans  once  made  of  the  wearing  of  the  hood:  it  "protects  scores  of 
thousands  of  our  members  from  intimidation,  sabotage,  and  worse,  and  it  screens 
our  leaders  from  the  temptation  to  forget  the  general  interest  in  the  pursuit  of 
particular  whims  or  ambitions.  Self-esteem  is  eliminated.  There  is  no  lure  of 
personal  vanity  nor  of  demagogy." 

18.  See  The  Whole  Truth  About  the  Effort  to  Destroy  the  Klan  (Atlanta,  1923), 
which  is  a  pamphlet  Evans  ordered  published  to  show  how  self-seeking  men  had 
gathered  about  Simmons  in  order  to  rule  the  Klan  for  personal  gain. 

19.  Marion  Monteval  [pseud,  of  Edgar  Irving  Fuller?],  The  Klan  Inside  Out 
(Claremore,  Okla.,  [c.  19241),  51;  C.  Anderson  Wright,  The  Ku  Klux  Klan,  As 
Exposed  by  Major  C.  Anderson  Wright .  .  .  and  as  Defended  by  Col.  Wm.  J. 
Simmons  (Atlanta,  1923),  16. 

20.  In  July,  1922,  Imperial  Kligrapp  Louis  D.  Wade  filed  suit  alleging  that 
Clarke  had  gained  complete  control  over  Simmons  by  taking  advantage  of  his 
continual  drunken  condition. 

21.  W.  M.  Likins,  Patriotism  Capitalized:  or,  Religion  Turned  into  Gold  (Union- 
town,  Pa.,  1925),  126. 

22.  For  the  case  against  Stephenson,  see  Edgar  Allen  Booth,  The  Mad  Mullah 
of  America  (Columbus,  1927);  for  the  case  for  him,  see  Robert  A.  Butler.  "So 
They  Framed  Stephenson"  (Huntington,  Ind.,  1940).  (In  1956  Stephenson  was 
released  from  prison.) 

23.  Of  the  115,000,000  Americans  in  the  1920's,  20,000,000  were  foreign  born; 
10,000,000,  Negro;  20,000,000,  Catholic;  and  almost  3,000,000,  Jewish. 

24.  Since  the  Klan,  as  a  secret  fraternity,  never  published  its  numerical  strength, 
each  figure  given  in  this  paragraph  is  an  approximation  based  upon  recollections  of 
Klan  leaders  or  estimates  by  contemporary  reporters  and  later  students  of  the 
organization. 

Chapter  II 

1.  In  the  Washington,  D.  C.  Fellowship  Forum,  November  24,  1923,  p.  2,  there 
appear  for  comparison  two  maps  of  the  nation  showing  the  expansion  of  the  Klan, 
one  reproduced  from  the  New  York  Herald  of  November  11,  1923,  and  the  other 
from  the  New  York  Times  of  November  12,  1923.  Although  the  two  maps  do  not 
agree  in  particulars,  both  show  quite  vividly  that  the  Klan  was  powerful  in  the 


132  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Deep  South,  in  the  territory  west  of  the  lower  Mississippi  River,  on  the  Pacific 
coast,  and  in  the  Middle  West. 

2.  In  the  vigorously  pro-Klan  pamphlet,  George  E.  Hills,  The  Ku  Klux  Klan  of 
the  Present  Day  (1923),  3,  is  found  the  following  peculiar  denial  of  the  secret 
order's  limiting  its  membership  solely  to  Protestants:  "Any  Jew  can  belong  if  he 
believes  in  the  divinity  of  Christ,  any  Catholic  if  he  can  fulfill  the  obligations  of 
membership."  Although  the  Klan  at  all  times  excluded  women  from  membership, 
wives  of  Klansmen  did  form  groups  auxiliary  to  the  local  chapters.  In  the  summer 
of  1927  the  "Women  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan"  went  so  far  as  to  hold  a  national  con- 
vention and  adopt  a  constitution,  which  was  never  recognized  by  Klan  national 
headquarters. 

3.  The  number  of  Protestant  ministers  who  condemned  the  Klan  is,  of  course, 
legion.  Such  clergymen  were  horrified  that  a  secret  order  which  fostered  racial 
and  religious  prejudice  should  attempt  to  speak  in  the  name  of  the  Protestant 
church. 

4.  Leaders  of  the  revived  Klan  were  fairly  quick  to  realize  the  value  of 
Griffith's  masterpiece  in  their  propaganda  activities.  For  example,  the  Jackson, 
Mississippi  Daily  Clarion-Ledger,  August  10,  1924,  p.  16,  contains  a  three-quarters 
page  high  endorsement  of  "The  Birth  of  a  Nation"  by  the  Jackson  Klan  No.  22, 
Realm  of  Mississippi,  in  which  the  Exalted  Cyclops  wrote  the  following:  "I  feel 
sure  that  all  good  Americans  in  our  city  and  surrounding  territory,  both  men  and 
women  [,]  will  come  to  see  this  wonderful  picture." 

5.  John  Moffatt  Mecklin,  TJie  Ku  Klux  Klan,  A  Study  of  the  American  Mind 
(New  York,  1924),  157,  states  that  he  found,  through  many  personal  interviews 
with,  and  a  questionnaire  to,  representative  citizens  from  all  parts  of  the  nation 
who  had  become  Klansmen,  that  the  selling-point  which  gained  most  members 
for  the  secret  order  was  undoubtedly  anti-Catholicism. 

6.  The  practice  of  "night-riding"  was  more  prevalent  among  the  Klansmen  of 
the  South  than  among  those  of  other  sections  of  the  nation.  "The  Rise  and  Fall 
of  the  K.  K.  K.,"  The  New  Republic,  November  30,  1927,  p.  33,  declares,  "Some 
hoodlums  signed  up  in  order  to  participate  in  the  night  riding;  but  it  is  safe  to 
say  that  90  percent  of  the  total  membership  list  never  indulged  in  such  practices." 

7.  Catalogue  of  Official  [Ku  Klux  Klan]  Robes  and  Banners  (Atlanta,  1925). 
For  carrying  the  costume,  a  "rubberoid"  case  with  separate  compartments  for 
hood  and  robe  could  be  had  for  $1.  The  Gate  City  Manufacturing  Company  of 
Atlanta,  which  after  1920  was  under  contract  to  make  the  official  Klan  regalia, 
realized  a  profit  of  about  $4  on  every  $5  costume  it  produced.  The  costume  was 
merely  rented  to  a  Klansman  and  was  to  be  returned  if  the  member  resigned  from 
the  organization. 

8.  Occasionally  witnesses  of  a  Klan  parade  were  hostile  to  the  marchers  to 
the  extent  of  actually  attacking  them.  See,  for  example,  The  Martyred  Klansman, 
In  Which  Events  Leading  Up  to  the  Shooting  to  Death  of  Klansman  Thomas) 
Rankin  Abbott,  on  August  25,  1923,  are  Related  ....  (Pittsburgh,  1923).  As  for 
the  only  national  parade  held  by  the  order  —  in  Washington,  D.  C,  on  August  8, 
1925  —  most  reporters  estimated  that  there  were  from  50,000  to  60,000  in  the 
three  hour  and  forty  minute  march  down  Pennsylvania  Avenue. 

9.  Of  the  secondary  works  on  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the  Reconstruction  period, 
three  of  the  best  aTe  Stanley  Fitzgerald  Horn,  Invisible  Empire,  The  Story  of  the 
Ku  Klux  Klan,   1866-1871    (Boston,    1939);   Susan   Lawrence   Davis,   Authentic 


REFERENCES  733 

History,  Ku  Klux  Klan,  1860-1877  (New  York,  1934);  W.  B.  Romine  and  Mrs. 
W.  B.  Romine,  Story  of  the  Original  Ku  Klux  Klan  (Pulaski,  Tenn.,  1934). 

10.  Ideals  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  (Atlanta,  1923),  3-4. 

11.  It  must  not  be  overlooked  that  this  championing  of  things  Protestant  and 
native-born  makes  the  Klan  of  the  1920's  appear  to  be  the  successor  more  to  two 
nineteenth  century  nativist  organizations,  the  Know-Nothing  party  and  the  Ameri- 
can Protective  Association,  than  to  its  namesake.  One  of  the  best  general  accounts 
of  Know-Nothingism  can  be  found  in  Louis  Dow  Scisco,  Political  Nativism  in  New 
York  (New  York,  1901 ).  A  standard  work  on  the  American  Protective  Association 
is  Humphrey  J.  Desmond,  The  A.  P.  A.  Movement,  A  Sketch  (Washington,  1912). 
A  good  brief  coverage  of  both  movements  is  found  in  Gustavus  Myers,  History  of 
Bigotry  in  the  United  States  (New  York,  1943),  chaps.  XVIII-XXII. 

12.  John  Moffatt  Mecklin,  The  Ku  Klux  Klan,  A  Study  of  the  American  Mind 
(New  York,  1924),  100,  states  that  Baptists  were  "apparently  the  religious 
mainstay  of  the  Klan." 

13.  A  hint  of  how  the  local  Klan  lent  assistance  to  its  own  can  be  acquired  from 
Ku  Klux  Klan,  Realm  of  Indiana,  Marion  County  Klan  No.  3.  Local  Constitution 
(Marion,  Ind.,  1924),  art.  VI,  sec.  2,  which  states  that  donations  were  not  to 
exceed  $4  a  week  for  each  member  of  a  distressed  Klan  family,  and  relief  was  not  to 
be  extended  for  more  than  six  weeks,  except  by  the  authorization  of  the  Kludd. 

14.  Of  all  the  cases  of  Klan  terrorism  during  the  1920's  the  Mer  Rouge  murder 
incident  is  undoubtedly  the  most  notorious.  The  amount  of  contemporary  litera- 
ture dealing  with  the  facts  and  results  of  the  episode  is  quite  extensive. 

Chapter  III 

1.  Stanley  Frost,  "When  the  Klan  Rules,"  The  Outlook,  February  20,  1924, 
p.  310,  writes  that  in  nearly  90  per  cent  of  the  election  contests  he  had  been  able 
to  check,  the  Klan  apparently  had  cast  a  practically  solid  vote. 

Chapter  IV 

1.  It  should  perhaps  be  stated  at  this  point  why  the  participation  of  the  south- 
ern wing  of  the  Klan  in  the  election  of  representatives  to  Congress  is  treated  in 
this  chapter.  The  reason  is  that  although  representatives  are  members  of  the 
national  government,  they  are  elected  by  the  voters,  and  reflect  the  political  think- 
ing, of  a  specific  local  area  within  a  particular  state. 

2.  The  Klan's  attempt  to  hold  a  meeting  in  Louisville  was  abandoned,  and  the 
activities  of  the  fraternity  were  finally  transferred  to  Jeffersonville,  Indiana,  op- 
posite Louisville  on  the  Ohio  River. 

3.  Supplied  by  J.  B.  Stoner  in  an  interview  with  Stetson  Kennedy,  December 
12,  1945.    In  Stetson  Kennedy  Papers,  New  York  Public  Library,  Harlem  Branch. 

4.  J.  P.  Alley's  cartoons  and  C.  P.  J.  Mooney's  editorials  against  the  extremely 
active  local  Klan  in  Memphis  won  a  Pulitzer  Prize  for  their  newspaper,  the 
Memphis  Commercial- Appeal,  in  1922. 

5.  The  word  "promptly"  used  in  the  text  is  taken  from  the  account  in  the 
Raleigh  News  and  Observer,  November  7,  1924,  p.  2.  Owned  and  published  by 
the  well-known  Democratic  politician,  Josephus  Daniels,  the  anti-Klan  Raleigh 
News  and  Observer  was  a  highly  reliable  and  respectable  newspaper.     Taking 


734  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

all  this  into  consideration,  it  requires  just  a  bit  of  reading  between  the  lines  to 
detect  the  probable  positive  relationship  between  Mayor  Williams  and  the  local 
Klan  in  Ahoskie. 

6.  In  Josephus  Daniels  Papers,  Library  of  Congress. 

7.  Klan  Hearings,  74. 

8.  In  Stetson  Kennedy  Papers,  New  York  Public  Library,  Harlem  Branch. 

9.  The  New  York  Times,  September  21,  1922,  p.  2,  notes  that  Sims  "if  not  a 
member  of  the  Klan  is  closely  affiliated  with  the  organization." 

10.  In  his  reply  to  the  attacks  upon  the  local  Klan  by  the  Pulaski  County  Demo- 
cratic convention  Cook  referred  to  Dodge  as  an  "ex-Klansman  lawyer,  who  has 
been  suspended." 

Chapter   V 

1.  Klan  Hearings,  26-27. 

2.  For  a  highly  informative  biographical  sketch  of  Upshaw,  see  Washington, 

D.  C.  Fellowship  Forum,  April  11,  1925,  p.  4.  Upshaw  was  known  for  his  inter- 
est and  participation  in  the  causes  of  prohibition,  Fundamentalism,  and  American- 
ism. For  his  thoughts  on  these  and  other  matters,  see  William  D.  Upshaw, 
Clarion  Calls  From  Capitol  Hill  (New  York,  1923). 

3.  Klan  Hearings,  67. 

4.  Klan  Hearings,  86-87. 

5.  C.  Vann  Woodward,  Tom  Watson,  Agrarian  Rebel  (New  York,  1938),  450, 
concludes,  "If  Watson  had  any  hand  in  launching  the  new  organization  [the  Klan] , 
no  record  has  been  found  that  reveals  it.  Yet  if  any  mortal  man  may  be  credited 
(as  no  one  man  may  rightly  be)  with  releasing  the  forces  of  human  malice  and 
ignorance  and  prejudice,  which  the  Klan  merely  mobilized,  that  man  was  Thomas 

E.  Watson." 

6.  The  Atlanta  Constitution,  July  9,  1924,  p.  1,  notes  that  Forrest  admitted  to 
the  authenticity  of  the  document. 

7.  The  Atlanta  Constitution,  June  27,  1924,  p.  1,  notes  that  at  the  Democratic 
national  convention  Cohen  claimed  that,  to  his  knowledge,  not  one  of  the  fifty-six 
delegates  from  Georgia  was  a  Klansman. 

8.  Reuben  Maury,  The  Wars  of  the  Godly  (New  York,  1928),  285;  Michael 
Williams,  The  Shadow  of  the  Pope  (New  York,  1932),  141-42,  are  fully  satisfied 
with  the  Klan's  claim  of  responsibility  for  Underwood's  political  retirement.  In 
evaluating  the  article  by  Evans  in  The  World's  Work,  the  New  York  Times,  Janu- 
ary 8,  1928,  III,  p.  1,  contends  that  the  secret  order  did  not  frighten  the  Senator 
out  of  politics;  "What  the  masked  gang  did  was  to  disgust  Mr.  Underwood,  and 
to  make  him  see  the  futility  of  further  sacrifice  of  time,  energy  and  health  for 
a  State  rotten  to  the  core  with  Klan  influence." 

9.  McCall  remained  a  Knight  until  October  19,  1927. 

10.  For  a  more  detailed  treatment  of  Graves'  admission  of  association  with 
the  Klan,  see  below,  98. 

11.  It  was  alleged  that  Mayfield  had  resigned  from  the  Klan  in  January, 
1922. 

12.  For  the  text  of  a  letter  by  Culberson  to  an  influential  constituent,  in  which 
he  expressed  hope  that  the  state  authorities  would  take  immediate  steps  to  destroy 
the  Klan,  see  Cong.  Record,  67  Cong.,  3  Sess.,  7996. 


REFERENCES  J  35 

13.  For  the  details  of  the  elimination  contest  held  by  one  of  the  local  Klans  in 
Texas,  Dallas  Klan  No.  66,  see  Senator  From  Texas,  68  Cong.,  1-2  Sess.  (Wash- 
ington, 1924),  376-77.  A  stenographic  record  of  the  hearings  on  alleged  irregulari- 
ties in  the  1922  Texas  senatorial  race  held  before  the  Senate  Committee  on 
Privileges  and  Elections,  May  8-December  18,  1924,  this  will  be  cited  hereafter  as 
Mayjield  Hearings. 

14.  The  total  vote  garnered  by  the  pro-Klan  candidates  in  the  Democratic 
senatorial  primary  of  July  22,  1922,  was  approximately  177,000,  while  that  received 
by  the  anti-Klan  candidates  was  over  328,000. 

15.  Probably  feeling  that  to  do  so  was  unnecessary,  Mayfield  never  mentioned 
the  Klan  in  his  campaign  addresses. 

16.  Erwin  J.  Clark,  who  while  he  was  serving  as  District  Judge  of  the  McLennan 
County  Court  at  Waco  in  the  early  1920's  was  a  Great  Titan  of  a  Province  of  the 
Realm  of  Texas,  affirmed  that  in  1922  Evans  (at  the  time  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the 
local  Klan  in  Dallas,  he  was  soon  to  be  Imperial  Kligrapp  and  then  Im- 
perial Wizard)  argued  that  the  secret  order  simply  had  to  concentrate  behind 
Mayfield  in  the  Democratic  primary  because  the  Klan  needed  to  have  a  senator 
elected  from  Texas  who  was  "in  a  position  to  get  in  touch  with  the  big  business 
of  the  country."  who  was  "in  line  with  the  railroad  interests,"  and  who  could 
"even  approach  Standard  Oil."     In  Mayjield  Hearings,  68. 

17.  In  1924  Henry  admitted  that  he  had  joined  the  Klan  in  Febru- 
ary, 1922,  but  later  withdrew  from  it.     In  Mayjield  Hearings,  46,  56. 

18.  Mayjield  Hearings,  1A,  51.  passim. 

19.  Among  the  other  seven  candidates  in  this  primary  were  Lieutenant  Gover- 
nor T.  W.  Davidson  and  wealthy  lumberman  Lynch  Davidson. 

20.  For  a  short  and  incisive  analysis  of  the  personality  and  abilities  of  James 
E.  Ferguson,  see  Charles  W.  Ferguson,  "James  E.  Ferguson,"  Southwest  Review, 
October,  1924,  pp.  32-33. 

21.  Robertson  received  190,885  votes,  while  Mrs.  Ferguson  got  145,137. 

22.  The  New  York  Times,  August  31,  1924,  VIII,  p.  3,  in  an  extended  article 
on  the  personal  qualities  of  Mrs.  Ferguson,  declares,  "The  campaign  slogan, 
'Me  for  Ma,'  while  effectual  as  a  vote-getter,  does  not  embody  any  term  ever 
used  familiarly  in  the  Ferguson  family.  .  .  .  The  'Ma'  idea  came  from  her  initials, 
M.  A.  Ferguson,  her  ordinary  signature.  .  .  .  'Ma'  is  not  the  kind  of  term  applicable 
to  a  woman  possessing  as  much  dignity  as  Mrs.  Ferguson,  .  .  .  but  she  well  knew 
the  force  of  the  homely  appeal." 

23.  The  New  York  Times,  August  5,  1924,  p.  16,  in  an  editorial  devastatingly 
satirizes  Mrs.  Ferguson's  leaving  the  speechmaking  to  her  husband. 

24.  Mrs.  Ferguson  received  427,225  votes,  while  Robertson  got  337,832. 

25.  It  should  be  noted,  however,  that  in  this  election  the  Republican  party 
of  the  solidly  Democratic  state  of  Texas  polled  the  largest  vote  in  its  history.  Al- 
though Mrs.  Ferguson  received  422,558  votes  to  Butte's  294,970,  for  many  years 
prior  to  the  1924  election  the  Republican  gubernatorial  candidate  had  never  polled 
more  than  65,000  votes. 

26.  In  Thomas  J.  Walsh  Papers,  Library  of  Congress. 

27.  In  the  "run-off"  primary,  held  on  August  28,  Moody  received  469,182 
votes  to  Mrs.  Ferguson's  247,100. 


736  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

Chapter  VI 

1.  The  Charleston  News  and  Courier,  June  10,  1924,  p.  1,  declares  that  Watson 
"complimented"  the  work  of  the  Invisible  Empire  in  his  home  state  by  endorsing 
for  Republican  gubernatorial  nominee  in  1924  the  same  individual,  Edward  Jack- 
son, whom  the  Klan  ultimately  "carried  to  triumph"  in  the  intra-party  contest, 
while  the  Louisville  Courier- Journal,  June  10,  1924,  p.  3,  maintains  that  the  Sena- 
tor was  compelled  by  Grand  Dragon  Bossert  to  enter  into  a  "gentlemen's  agree- 
ment" with  the  Klan  in  Indiana  to  save  his  political  machine  from  being  taken 
over  by  the  Knights  of  that  state. 

2.  The  New  York  Times,  June  10,  1924,  p.  3,  emphasizes  that  the  original 
statement  endorsing  Watson  given  out  by  Klan  headquarters  at  the  Hotel  Statler 
was  dictated  by  Milton  Elrod,  a  publicity  man  for  the  order,  who  said  Evans  had 
fully  authorized  the  statement  after  first  conferring  with  Klan  leaders  regarding 
its  content,  and  then  insisting  that  it  be  repeated  to  him  in  final  form  to  check 
thoroughly  against  errors. 

3.  In  the  alignment  between  the  South  and  the  East  over  the  Klan  issue  at 
the  Democratic  national  convention  of  1924  the  South  was  readily  aided  by 
the  Middle  West,  the  other  great  stronghold  of  Klanism  during  the  1920's. 

4.  Democratic  National  Committee,  Official  Report  of  the  Proceedings  of  the 
Democratic  National  Convention  held  in  Madison  Square  Garden,  New  York 
City,  June  24,  25,  26,  27,  28,  30,  July  1,2,3,  4,  5,  7,  8  and  9, 1924  (Indianapolis, 
1924),  95-103,  contains  the  speech  made  by  Forney  Johnson  of  Birmingham,  a 
leading  lawyer  of  the  South,  in  nominating  Senator  Oscar  W.  Underwood  for 
the  presidency,  in  which  Johnson  read  to  the  convention  the  famous  Underwood- 
prepared  anti-Klan  plank,  patterned  after  the  anti-Know-Nothing  plank  adopted 
by  the  Democratic  national  convention  of  1856.  (Underwood,  it  should  be 
remembered,  intended  to  make  his  appeal  for  the  nomination  on  his  stand  for 
a  vigorous  anti-Klan  plank.) 

5.  Erwin's  remarks  not  only  took  the  convention  by  surprise  but  roused  it  to  a 
spirited  demonstration,  for  it  was  naturally  assumed  that  a  Georgian  would  have 
spoken  for  the  majority  report. 

6.  During  his  speech  in  favor  of  the  minority  plank  Bryan  kept  referring  to 
the  secret  order  as  the  "Kloo  Klux  Klan." 

7.  Because  of  the  confusion  and  the  closeness  of  the  result  of  the  first  poll, 
Permanent  Chairman  Walsh  had  to  order  a  recapitulation  of  the  entire  vote. 

8.  The  minority  plank  on  the  League  of  Nations  presented  by  Baker  had  already 
been  rejected  by  the  convention  by  a  vote  of  742  Vi  to  353%. 

9.  Although  The  Illinois  Kourier,  June  20,  1924,  p.  2,  reports  that  "the  grand 
Dragon  Realm  of  Illinois  .  .  .  will  go  to  New  York  to  the  Democratic  convention 
to  help  protect  the  government  from  papal  domination,"  there  is  no  evidence  that 
he  (Palmer)  ever  arrived  on  the  scene. 

10.  Many  Democratic  party  workers  believed  that  Davis'  bringing  up  the 
Klan  issue  had  a  negative  effect  upon  his  batde  for  the  presidency.  Representative 
Cordell  Hull  of  Tennessee,  as  Democratic  national  chairman  in  1924,  received 
quite  a  few  letters  attesting  to  this.  One  said,  for  example,  "And  why,  tell  me, 
did  Davis  after  being  the  outcome  and  product  of  a  long  struggle  on  the  K.K.K. 
issue  and  after  a  minority  report  had  been  defeated  in  the  convention  platform 
go  beyond  the  work  of  the  convention  and  declare  against  the  Klan?     That  was 


REFERENCES  137 

a  mistake."  In  Cordell  Hull  Papers,  Library  of  Congress.  Davis'  eagerness  to 
eliminate  the  Klan  issue  quickly  from  the  campaign  is  evidenced  in  his  correspond- 
ence. In  a  letter  to  William  Jennings  Bryan,  he  declared  that  the  Klan  issue 
"would  have  continuously  cropped  out  in  the  campaign,  if  it  had  not  been  dis- 
posed of,  and  I  am  hoping  that  I  have  said  the  last  word  necessary  on  the  subject." 
In  William  J.  Bryan  Papers,  Library  of  Congress. 

11.  On  July  4,  1924,  in  Cleveland,  Ohio,  various  agrarian  and  labor  groups 
launched  a  third  party  that  eagerly  nominated  LaFollette  for  the  presidency  and 
promptly  chose  Burton  K.  Wheeler,  the  Democratic  Senator  from  Montana  who 
had  helped  conduct  the  investigations  of  corruption  in  the  Harding  administra- 
tion, for  the  vice-presidency.  The  platform  of  the  Progressive  party,  written  by 
LaFollette  himself,  called  for  reforms  in  the  American  government  and  economy. 

12.  Evans  must  have  been  referring  to  LaFollette's  action  in  1917,  when  he 
first  led  the  resistance  in  the  Senate  to  the  arming  of  merchant  ships,  and  then 
voted  against  a  declaration  of  war  on  Germany. 

Chapter  VII 

1.  Representatives  of  the  Klan,  headed  by  Evans,  had  traveled  also  to  Kansas 
City,  Missouri,  during  the  national  convention  of  the  Republican  party,  but  had 
done  nothing  more  than  observe  the  proceedings. 

2.  One  of  the  tactics  of  the  Klan  was  to  attempt  to  convince  the  delegates  from 
the  South  that  the  appeal  for  religious  toleration  included  in  the  speech  delivered 
by  Robinson  as  permanent  chairman  of  the  convention  was  an  indication  of  a  deep 
pro-Catholic  bias. 

3.  For  the  text  of  the  letter  in  full,  see  Raleigh  News  and  Observe*,  October 
9,  1928,  pp.  1-2. 

4.  For  a  highly  complimentary  biographical  sketch  of  Heflin,  see  Washington, 
D.  C.  Fellowship  Forum,  December  6,  1924,  p.  4.  For  a  quite  condemnatory 
delineation  of  Heflin,  see  Allan  A.  Michie  and  Frank  Ryhlick,  Dixie  Demagogues 
(New  York,  1939),  142-58.  Heflin  was  an  individual  of  the  most  violent  anti- 
Catholic  persuasion.  In  Congress  he  spoke  often  and  long-windedly  against  that 
faith:  one  time  he  proclaimed  that  a  Catholic  employee  in  the  Treasury  Depart- 
ment had  been  induced  to  engrave  a  rosary  on  the  plate  of  the  latest  issue  of  the 
dollar  bill;  another  time  he  was  aghast  that  the  green  drapes  in  the  President's 
room  in  the  Capitol  had  been  replaced  by  those  of  red,  "the  color  of  the  Cardinals 
of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church";  on  one  occasion  he  thundered  that  a  "Roman 
Catholic  flag"  had  been  flown  above  the  American  flag  on  two  battleships  during 
religious  services.  For  examples  of  the  many  anti-Catholic  addresses  made  by 
him  on  the  floor  of  the  Senate,  see  Cong.,  Record,  69  Cong.,  2  Sess.,  1701-02, 
1835-41,  1843,  2210-23;  70  Cong.,  1  Sess.,  1868-74,  2613-15,  7948-49,  8049-'' 
8057-58,  8505-06,  8937-42,  9155-57,  10079-86,  10209-11,  10214-16. 

5.  Students  of  the  presidential  election  of  1928  disagree  as  to  the  relative  im- 
portance of  these  factors  contributing  to  Hoover's  victory.  See,  for  example, 
Charles  Edward  Merriam  and  Harold  Foote  Gosnell,  The  American  Party  System 
(New  York,  1929),  326;  Roy  V.  Peel  and  Thomas  C.  Donnelly,  The  1928  Cam- 
paign, An  Analysis  (New  York,  1931),  52;  Edmund  A.  Moore,  A  Catholic  Runs 
for  President,  The  Campaign  of  1928  (New  York,  1956),  195-96.  It  is  important 
to  note  that  none  of  these  authors  is  willing  to  state  positively  what  effect  Klan 


738  THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 

opposition  to  Smith  had  upon  the  results  of  the  election.  For  a  sampling  of  letters 
written  just  after  the  election  by  private  citizens  offering  what  they  believed  to 
be  the  reasons  for  Hoover's  victory,  see  Josephus  Daniels  Papers,  Library  of 
Congress;  George  W.  Norris  Papers,  Library  of  Congress;  Thomas  J.  Walsh 
Papers,  Library  of  Congress;  Hoke  Smith  Papers,  University  of  Georgia. 

Chapter  VIII 

1.  For  a  more  detailed  treatment  of  Heflin's  opposition  to  Smith  in  1928,  see 
above,   89. 

2.  Sprigle  won  the  Pulitzer  Prize  for  this  job  of  reporting. 

3.  Black's  opponents  were  Thomas  E.  Kilby,  former  Governor;  James  J.  Mayfield, 
retired  State  Supreme  Court  Justice;  L.  Breckinridge  Musgrove,  coal  mine  operator 
and  member  of  the  national  board  of  the  Anti-Saloon  League;  John  H.  Bankhead, 
corporation  lawyer. 

4.  In  the  summer  of  1926  a  journalist  named  Bobert  B.  Smith  made  the  charge 
that  the  Invisible  Empire  had  "definitely  established  itself"  in  the  Senate.  The 
exact  numerical  strength  of  the  Klan  bloc  could  not  be  determined,  he  explained, 
for  it  depended  upon  the  varying  strength  of  the  order  in  the  individual  states  and 
the  proximity  of  election  day.  Although  Smith  doubted  that  any  member  of  the 
Upper  House  was  actually  a  Knight,  he  emphasized  that  with  a  realization  of  the 
power  of  the  Klan  at  the  ballot  box,  a  number  of  senators  were  almost  as  responsive 
to  the  will  of  the  Imperial  Wizard  and  of  the  Grand  Dragons  of  the  states  they 
represented  in  Congress  as  members  of  the  order  would  be.  The  series  of  events 
that  took  place  in  the  1930's  involving  Black  and  Heflin  indeed  lends  credence 
to  Smith's  assertions  regarding  the  Senate. 

5.  Graves  was  an  officer  in  the  famed  Rainbow  Division  during  World  War  I. 

6.  Graves'  opponents  were  Charles  S.  McDowell,  Lieutenant-Governor;  Andrew 
G.  Patterson,  president  of  the  State  Public  Service  Commission;  and  Archie  H. 
Carmichael,  former  state  legislator. 

7.  These  few  remarks  can  mean  nothing  other  than  that  Graves  was  at  the  time 
the  Exalted  Cyclops  of  the  local  Klan  in  Montgomery,  Alabama. 

8.  It  should  be  noted,  however,  that  Communist  organizers  were  able  eventually 
to  gain  tremendous  influence  in  a  few  unions,  such  as  that  of  the  electrical  workers 
and  longshoremen. 

9.  For  a  highly  unfavorable  character  analysis  of  Colescott,  see  Heywood 
Broun,  "Up  Pops  the  Wizard,"  The  New  Republic,  June  21,  1939,  186-87. 

Chapter  IX 

1.  For  a  quite  uncomplimentary  delineation  of  Green,  see  Boi  Ottley,  "I  Met 
the  Grand  Dragon,"  The  Nation,  July  2,  1949,  pp.  10-11. 

2.  In  August,  1946,  Assistant  Attorney-General  Daniel  Duke  was  sent  to  New 
York  and  New  Jersey  to  confer  with  Attorneys-General  Nathaniel  Goldstein  and 
Walter  D.  Van  Riper  regarding  the  methods  they  had  used  in  revoking  the  char- 
ters of  the  Klan  in  their  states. 

3.  Green  always  insisted  that  among  his  patients  were  both  Negroes  and 
whites,  both  Protestants  and  non-Protestants. 


REFERENCES  739 

4.  It  was  out  of  respect  for  Spinks'  ardent  wish  that  the  headship  of  the  order 
was  redundantly  entitled. 

5.  Of  the  journalistic  treatments  of  the  White  Citizens  Council,  one  of  the  best 
is  John  Bartlow  Martin,  The  Deep  South  Says  "Never,"  (New  York,  1957). 

6.  Most  of  Kasper's  colleagues  in  the  White  Citizens  Council,  by  the  way, 
deplored  his  background  and  tactics.  Kasper  had  been  bom  in  New  Jersey,  attend- 
ed Columbia  University,  run  a  bookstore  specializing  in  anti-Semitic  literature 
in  Greenwich  Village,  where  he  associated  with  Negroes  of  both  sexes.  He  had 
to  face  both  state  charges  of  sedition  and  incitement  to  riot  and  federal  charges 
of  contempt  of  court  for  interfering  in  September,  1956,  with  desegregation  in  the 
public  high  school  in  Clinton,  Tennessee. 

7.  This  order  is  not  to  be  confused  with  the  Association  of  Carolina  Klans  of 
the  late  1940's  and  early  1950's  led  by  Grand  Dragon  Thomas  L.  Hamilton. 

8.  In  September,  1958,  Governor  Orval  E.  Faubus  of  Arkansas  said  that  he  was 
not  in  sympathy  with  the  Klan  and  its  methods,  but  that  he  would  not  use  his 
office  to  interfere  with  the  organization  in  his  state  so  long  as  its  members  obeyed 
the  law.  In  September  of  the  previous  year,  it  was  the  Governor  who  had  ob- 
structed desegregation  in  Central  High  School  in  Little  Rock,  by  ordering  National 
Guardsmen  to  surround  the  building  and  prevent  the  Negro  students  from  enter- 
ing. 

9.  The  Citizens  for  Religious  Freedom  was  founded  in  September,  1960,  in 
Washington,  D.  C,  at  a  meeting  of  175  prominent  Protestant  ministers  and  laymen. 
The  group  issued  a  statement  questioning  whether  any  Catholic  should  be  presi- 
dent. Two  leading  figures  of  the  session  were  Dr.  Norman  Vincent  Peale  of  New 
York's  Marble  Collegiate  Church,  a  well-known  author  and  columnist,  and  Dr. 
Daniel  Poling,  editor  of  the  influential  Protestant  monthly,  Christian  Herald. 
Peale,  however,  soon  withdrew  from  the  Citizens  for  Religious  Freedom,  telling 
his  congregation  that  he  had  been  "stupid"  to  associate  with  it. 

10.  Nixon  obviously  did  not  welcome  the  endorsement. 

11.  Six  of  Alabama's  eleven  Democratic  electors  and  all  of  Mississippi's  eight 
ran  unpledged,  but  later  agreed  to  support  Senator  Harry  F.  Byrd  in  the  Elec- 
toral College. 


INDEX 


Ahoskie,  North  Carolina,  44,   133-34 

n.5 
Akron,  Ohio,  103 
Alabama,    5-6,    10,    13,    28,    47,    58, 

64-66,  87,  89,  94-95,  97,  98,  101-02, 

109,    110,    113,    115-19,    121-124, 

127,  134  n.8  ch.  V,  138  n.7,   139 

n.ll 
Albany,  New  York,  89 
Aldredge,  S.  R.,  54 
"alienism,"  88,  89,  91,  101,  104,  124, 

125 
Allen,  Louis  C,  88 
Allen,  Stanton,  52 
Alley,  J.  P.,  133  n.4 
Allied   Klans,    115 
American  Federation  of  Labor,    102- 

03 
American  Labor  party,  95 
American  Legion,  110 
American  Mercury,  57 
American  Protective  Association,   133 

n.ll 
American   Protestant,   95 
Americanism,  Klan  on,  15,  19-23,  49, 

62,  83,  89,  90,  101,  107,  116,  124 
Anderson,  South  Carolina,  94 
Anderson  County,  South  Carolina,  96 
anti-prohibition,    see    prohibition 
Anti-Saloon  League,  91,  125 
anti-Semitism,  see  Jews 
Ardery,  William  B.,  112-13 
Arkansas,  13,  49-51,  64,  81,  90,  115, 

124,  127,  134  n.10  ch.  IV,  139  n.8 
Arlington  County,  Virginia,  88 
Arnall,  Ellis,   113 
Asheville,   North   Carolina,   34 
Association  of  Arkansas  Klans,  124 
Association    of    Carolina    Klans,    116, 

118,  139  n.7 
Association  of  Georgia  Klans,  108-09, 

114-15,  116,  117-18,  122 


Association  of  South  Carolina  Klans, 

123,  128 
Atlanta,  Georgia,  1,  6,  9-11,  23,  31, 

46,  63,  88-89,  93,  94,  99,  103,  104, 

105,    106,    108,    109,    111,    113-14, 

120,  131  n.14 
Augusta,  Maine,  82 
Austin,  Texas,  53,  71 

B.  F.  Goodrich  Company,  103 

Bain,  Edgar  H.,  44 

Baker,  Newton  D.,  77,   136  n.8 

Baker,  William  T.,  42 

Baltimore,  90,  95,  106 

Baltimore  Sun,  81 

Bankhead,  John  H.,  95,   138  n.3  ch. 

VIII 
Baptists,  91,  111,  115,  122,  124,  126, 

133  n.12 
Barnard,  Elmo  C,  124 
Barnes,  J.  A.,  52 
Barrs,  Homer,  121 
Bartlett,  Texas,  52 
Bartow,  Florida,   104 
Baton  Rouge,  Louisiana,  124 
Beaumont,  Texas,  51-52 
Beavers,  James  L.,  46 
Bell,  Edward  Price,  31,  35 
Bickley,  James  H.,  122 
Birmingham,  Alabama,  6,  28,  64,  97, 

98,   101-02,   109,  116,   119 
"Birth  of  a  Nation,"  16,  132  n.4 
Black,   Hugo   L.,  65,   92,   95,   96-98, 

138  nn.3  ch.  VIII,  4 
Blake,  Aldrich,  17 
Borland,    Charles   B.,    40 
Bossert,  Walter  F.,  74-75,  80,  82,  136 

n.l 
Boston,  Massachusetts,  64 
boycotting,  12,  25-26,  118,  123 
Boykin,  John  A.,  46 
Bradford  County,  Florida,  100 


740 


INDEX 


141 


Brickhouse,  Benjamin  Dunton,  49 

Brimm,  Hugh  A.,   Ill 

Brooklyn,  New  York,  95-96 

Brown,  J.  J.,  62 

Brown,   John,  43 

Brust,  A.  T.,  39 

Bryan,  Alva,  81 

Bryan,  Charles  W.,  80 

Bryan,  J.  Winder,  44 

Bryan,   William   Jennings,   78-79,   80, 

88,  136  n.6,  137  n.10 
Butcher,  George  K.,  69 

Butte,    George    C,    71-72,    135    n.25 
Byrd,  Harry,  126,  139  n.ll 
Byrnes,  James  F.,  126 

Cahill,  William  E.,  93 
calendar  of  Klan,  see  Kalendar 
California,    13,   27,   98-99,    100,    106, 

109,  110,  111,  112,  124 
Callaway,  E.  E.,  57 
Camden,  South  Carolina,  120 
Camp  Nordland,  New  Jersey,  112,  113 
Campbell,  Clarence  M.,  40 
Cannon,  James,  Jr.,  91 
Cargell,    Bobert    M.,    93 
Carmichael,  Archie  H.,  138  n.6 
CarmichaeL   James   V.,    126 
Carter,  Asa,   123 
Catholics,    13,    23,    45,    46,    51,    91, 

96,  105,  125,  131  n.23:    Heflin  and, 

89,  137  n.4;  Klan  and,  2,  7,  12, 
13,  14,  17,  19,  22,  24,  26,  30,  34, 
49,  62,  64,  88,  89,  90,  95,  101, 
102,  105-06,  114,  122,  123,  124, 
128,  132  nn.2,  5,  136  n.9,  137 
n.2;    Watson  and,  59 

Caudle,  T.  Lamar,  111-12 

Cedartown,  Georgia,  61 

chapters    of    Klan,    see    Klan    (local 

chapter ) 
charitable   enterprise,    25,   26-27,   49, 

111,  133  n.13 
Charleston,  South  Carolina,  45 
Charlotte,  North  Carolina,  121 
Chattanooga,   Tennessee,   43,    103 
Chattanooga  News,  72,  85 
chauvinism  of  Klan,  see  Americanism, 

Klan  on 


Chicago  Daily  News,  31 

Christ  the  King,  Cathedral  of,  105 

Christian  Herald,  139  n.9 

Church  of  Christ,  126 

Cincinnati,  Ohio,  107 

Citizens  for  Beligious  Freedom,   126, 

139  n.9 
civil  rights,  123,  126,  127 
Clark,  Erwin  J.,   135  n.16 
Clark,   Tom   C,    112 
Clarke,  Edward  Young,  6-7,  8,  10,  11, 

12,  19,  35,  40,  58,  63,  68,  131  n.20 
Cleveland,  Grover,  88 

Cleveland,  Ohio,  64,  74-75,  137  n.ll 
Clinton,   Tennessee,    139  n.6 
Cohen,  John  S.,  63,  134  n.7  ch.  V 
Colby,   Bainbridge,  77-78 
Colescott,  James  A.,  106-07,  108,  138 

n.9 
Collier,    J.    F.,    69 
Collin  County,  Texas,  55 
Columbia,    South    Carolina,    120 
Columbus,  Georgia,  45,   103,   116 
Columbus,   Georgia   Enquirer-Sun,   8, 

45 
Comer,  James  A.,  10,  49,  80 
Committee  for  Industrial  Organization, 

102-04,  105,  117,  138  n.8 
Committee  of  One  Million,  105 
Communism,    101-04,   105,    116,   117, 

118,   122,   127,   138  n.8 
Confederate  Veterans,  6 
Congress,    investigations    of    Klan,    8, 

13,  35,  46,  59-60,  68-70,  81;  see 
also  House  of  Bepresentatives;  Sen- 
ate 

constitution  of  Klan,  3,  9,  18 
Cook,  Baines  M.,  126 
Cook,  B.  A.,  49,  134  n.10  ch.  IV 
Coolidge,  Calvin,  74,  75,  80,  82,  83, 

85 
Copeland,  J.  D.,  53 
costume   of   Klan,    5,    11,    17-18,    19, 

29,  43,  72,  94,  104,  107,  110,  111, 

113-14,  116-17,  124,  131  n.17,  132 

n.7 
Cox,    James    M.,    79 
Cox,  Shelby,  54 
Creager,   B.    B.,    74,    75 


742 


THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 


creed  of  Klan,  3,  19-25,  31-32,   101, 

108 
Crenshaw    County,    Alabama,    65 
cross  of  Klan,  4,  17,  18,  56,  90,  92-93, 

94,    100,    101,    103,    104,    106-110, 

118-120,   124 
Culberson,    Charles    A.,    66-67,     134 

n.12 
Cummings,  Homer  S.,  76 
Curry,  Leroy  Amos,  32 
Curtis,  Charles,  85 

Dade  County,  Florida,  88 

Dallas,  Texas,  20,  22,  28,  36,  53- 
55,  69,  73,  101,  127,  135  n.13 

Dallas  County,  Texas,  53-55,  69 

Dallas  Morning  News,  8 

Dane  County,  Wisconsin,  113 

Daniels,  Filmore  Watt,  29 

Daniels,  Jonathan,  44 

Daniels,  Josephus,  44,  133  n.5 

Danville,  Virginia,  40 

Daponte,  Dorothy  D.,  119 

Davidson,  Lynch,  135  n.19 

Davidson,  T.  W.,  135  n.19 

Davidson,  W.  H.,  52 

Davis,  Clifford,  43 

Davis,  John  W.,  80,  82-84,  87,  136- 
37  n.10 

Dawes,  Charles  G.,  74,  80,  82-83 

Dawn,  The,  32,  39,  58,  64 

Decatur,   Georgia,   93-94 

Democratic  party,  36,  40,  41,  42,  46, 
49-51,  55-56,  60-61,  62-64,  65, 
66-68,  69,  70-71,  72-73,  85-86, 
94-95,  97,  98,  99-101,  109,  134  n.10 
ch.  IV,  135  nn.14,  16,  19,  21,  24, 
25,  27,  138  nn.3  ch.  VIII,  6,  139 
n.ll:  convention  of  1924,  63,  64, 
76-82,  83-84,  134  n.7  ch.  V,  136 
nn.3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9;  convention  of 
1928,  85-87,  89,  137  n.2;  convention 
of  1960,  124,  126;  see  also  Presi- 
dential election 

desegregation,  117-24,  127,  139  nn. 
6,  8 

Disciples  of  Christ,  32,   126 

Dodge,  Frank  H.,  50,  134  n.10  ch.  IV 


Doheny,  Edward  L.,  82 
Domain  of  Klan,  2-3,  4 
Dougherty,   Denis,   105 
Downey,  Sheridan,  98 
dues    of    Klan,    see    Klectoken 
Duffus,  Robert  L.,  14 
Duke,  Daniel,   138  n.2  ch.  IX 
Duncan,   Amos   C,   87 

East  Domain  of  the  Klan,  3 

Easter  sunrise  services,  92,  101 

education,  23 

Edwards,  Eldon  Lee,  122,  123,  124, 
127 

Eighteenth  Amendment,  6,  85,  86 

Eisenhower,  Dwight  D.,   120 

Elrod,  Milton,  136  n.2 

emblems  and  tokens,  5,  18-19 

Emperor,  3,  9 

Episcopalians,  28 

Erwin,  Andrew  C,  78,  136  n.5 

Esdale,  James,  47,  65,  66,  80,  97 

Estes,  George,  33 

Etheridge,  Paul  S.,   130  n.9 

Evans,  Hiram  Wesley,  8,  9,  10-11,  12, 
19-23,  25,  35-36,  63,  64,  65,  68, 
74-75,  80-81,  83-84,  86-87,  90,  97, 
99,  101,  103,  104,  105-06,  131  nn. 
17,  18,  134  n.8  ch.  V,  135  n.16,  136 
n.2,   137  nn.12,   1 

Exalted  Cyclops,  3,  4 

Fair  Employment  Practices   Commis- 
sion,   126 
Fairfax  County,  Virginia,  88 
Fambro,  J.   A.,   45 
Faubus,  Orval  E.,  127,  139  n.8 
Federal  Bureau  of  Investigation,  112 
Federated  Klans  of  Alabama,   116-17 
Federated  Ku  Klux  Klans,  Inc.,   115 

116,  117-18 
Felton,  Rebecca  Latimer,  61-62 
Ferguson,  James  E.,  67,  70-73,   135 

nn.20,   23 
Ferguson,  Miriam  A.,  70-73,  135  nn. 

21,  22,  23,  24,  25,  27 
Ferndale,  Michigan,  106 
fiery  cross,  see  Cross  of  Klan 
Fiery  Cross,  The,  64 


INDEX 


143 


Flint,  Michigan,   109 

Florida,    13,   28,   47-48,   88,   91,   93, 

96,  100-01,  104,  106,  109,  112,  117, 

119-20,   121,   122,   123,  127 
Florida  Ku  Klux  Klan,  123 
Folsom,  James  E.,  113 
foreign-born,  13,  96,  131  n.23:    Klan 

and,  2,  7,  12,  13,  14,  17,  19,  20,  21- 

22,  26,  30-31,  101,   102,  106,  133 

n.ll;  see  also  "alienism" 
Forrest,  Nathan  Bedford,  63,  80,  87, 

134  n.6  ch.  V 
Forum,  The,  21,  45 
Fowler,  C.  Lewis,  33,  42 
Frankfort,   Kentucky,   112 
Franklin  County,  Kentucky,   112 
Fraser,    J.    E.,    123 
Freeport,   New  York,   93,   102 
Frost,  Stanley,  13,  15 
Fry,  Henry  Peck,   15,  43 
Fulton  County,  Georgia,  1,  47,  61,  96, 

113 
Fundamentalism,  24,  126,  134  n.2 
Furies,  4 
Furney,  N.  N.,  68,  69 

Garing,  H.  W.,  102 

Garner,  John  Nance,  56 

Garner,  Thomas  Heslip,  52 

Gaston,  Ike,  94 

Gate    City    Manufacturing   Company, 

132  n.7 
Gavagan,  Joseph  A.,  112 
Genii,  3 

George,    Walter    F.,    86 
Georgia,  1,  5-6,  11,  13,  23,  31,  45-47, 

58-64,   81,   87,   88-89,  93,   94,  96, 

99,   103,   104,   105,   106,   108,   109, 

110-14,  116-17,  120,  122,  126,  131 

n.14,  134  n.7  ch.  V 
German-American  Bund,  112,  113 
Gifford,   Fred   L.,   80 
Glenn,  A.  E.,  44 
Goldsboro,  North  Carolina,  44 
Goldstein,  Nathaniel  L.,   138  n.2  ch. 

IX 
Good  Government  Democratic  League 

of  Texas,  72 
Goose  Creek,  Texas,  28 


Grace,    John   P.,    45 

Graham,  Virginia,  40 

Grand  Dragon,  3,  4 

Grand    Goblin,    3,   4,    7 

grand  passport,  97,  98-99 

Graves,    Bibb,    65-66,    98,    138    nn.5 

ch.  VIII,  6,  7 
Great  Titan,  3,  4 
Green,  Samuel  J.,  101,  108,  109,  114, 

122,  138  nn.l  ch.  IX,  3  ch.  IX 
Greenville,  South  Carolina,  96,  103 
Griffin,  William  J.,  127 
Griffith,  David  W.,  16,  132  n.4 
Gulf  Ku  Klux  Klan,   124 
Gunter,  William  A.,  47 

Hale,  A.  B.,  97 

Hall,  Peirson,  98-99 

Hamilton,  James  B.,  53 

Hamilton,  Thomas  L.,  116,  118,  139 

n.7 
Hamly,   Charles,  55-56 
Hanes,  H.  Earlton,  41 
Hanger,    W.    A.,    81 
Hantaman,  Nathan,  29 
Harding,  Warren  G,  79,  82,  85,137 

n.ll 
Hardman,  L.  G.,  64 
Hardwick,    Thomas    W.,    60-61 
Harris,  Joel  Chandler,  45 
Harris,  Julian,  45 
Harris,  William  J.,  60-61 
Harrison,  Pat,  76,  79 
Harrison,  William  E.,  27 
Hartsfield,   William   B.,    126 
Hartsville,  South  Carolina,  120 
Harwood,    Brown,   70 
Haynesville,    Louisiana,    51 
Hazlett,  Ida  Couch,  28-29 
headquarters,    national,    of    Klan,    8, 

63,  68-69,  99,  103,  105,  107,  131 

n.14 
Heflin,  J.  Thomas,  89-90,  94,  95,  126, 

137  n.4,  138  n.4 
Henderson,  Carl,  41 
Hendrix,  Bill,  117,  118,  119,  127 
Henry,   Bobert   L.,  66,  67,   135  n.17 
Hightower,  A.  C,  124 
Hill,   Lister,   95 


744 


THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 


Hine,  C.  R.,  51 

Hodges,  Robert  E.,  123,  128 

Holcomb,  Walter,  105 

Holcombe,  Oscar  F.,  55 

Holder,  John,  64 

Hoover,    Herbert,    85,    87-88,    90-91, 

94,  127,  137-38  n.5 
Hopkins  County,  Kentucky,  41 
Horn,  Alvin,  122 
House  of  Representatives,  8,  46,  59- 

60,   111,   133  n.l   ch.  IV 
Houston,  Texas,   11,  53,  55,  64,  85, 

86-87 
Houston  Colonel  MayfielcPs  Weekly, 

24-25 
Howard,  Gus  H.,  47,  61 
Hull,  Cordell,  86,  136  n.10 
Humphrey,  Hubert,  125 
Hutchins,  Guy,  120 
Hyde  Park,  New  York,  93 
Hydras,  4 

Ideals  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  20 
Illinois,  13,  32-33,  89,  100,  107,  136 

n.9 
immigration,  21-22,  34,  62;  see  also 

foreign-bom 
Imperial  Aulic,  3 
Imperial  Kleagle,  6,  7 
Imperial  Klonsel,  130  n.9 
Imperial  Night  Hawk,  9 
Imperial  Night-Hawk,  The,  30,  39 
Imperial  Wizard,  3,  4,  7 
Independent  Klans,    115 
Indiana,    13,   24,   90,   99,    102,    106, 

110,  133  n.2,  136  n.l  ' 
Indianola,  Mississippi,  121 
Internal  Revenue,  Bureau  of,   108 
Invisible  Empire,  Knights  of  the  Ku 

Klux  Klan,  see  Ku  Klux  Klan 
Iowa,  28,  81 
Isgrig,  Fred  A.,  50 

Jackson,  Andrew,  88 
Jackson,  Edward,  136  n.l 
Jackson,    Mississippi,    132   n.4 
Jackson,    Missouri,    100 
Jacksonville,  Florida,  47 
Jefferson,  Thomas,  88,  90 


Jeffersonville,    Indiana,    133    n.2 
Jersey  City,  New  Jersey,  107 
Jett,  J.  Q.,  68 
Jewett,  N.  C,  80 
Jewish  War  Veterans,  110 
Jews,  12,  13,  45,  96,  131  n.23:   Kasper 
and,  139  n.6;  Klan  and,  2,  7,  12-14, 

17,  19-22,  26,  30-31,  34,  49,  93, 
101,  102,  106,  109,  110,  114,  117, 
122,    123,    124,    127,    132  n.2 

Jim  Crow  laws,  101 
Johnson,  Charley,  119 
Johnson,  Forney,  136  n.4 
Johnson,  Jack,  117 
Johnson  City,  Tennessee,  43 
Joiner,  Benton,  69 
Jones,  Murray  B.,  55 

Kalendar,    18 

Kansas,  13,  33,  81 

Kansas  City,  Missouri,  14,  30,  35,  62, 

64,  85,  107,  137  n.l 
Kasper,   John,    121-22,    128,    139   n.6 
Keeling,  H.  M.,  69 
Kennedy,  H.  C,  41 
Kennedy,  John  F.,  124-28 
Kennedy,  Stetson,  43 
Kenney,  Robert  W.,  112 
Kentucky,  13,  32,  41-42,  81,  89,  112- 

13,    128,    133   n.2 
Key  West,  Florida,  109 
Kilby,  Thomas  E.,   138  n.3  ch.  VIII 
"King,  George,"  69 
King  Kleagle,  7 

Kings  County,  New  York,  95-96 
Klabee,  4 
Kladd,  4 
Klaliff,  4 
Klan  (local  chapter),  3,  4,  13,  14,  15, 

18,  26,  27-29,  38,  56-57,  94,  104, 
130  n.5,   133  n.13 

Klankrest,  11 

Klannishness,  25-26,  49 

Klansmen:   Guardians  of  Liberty,  88 

Klarogo,   4 

Klavem,  4 

Kleagle,  7,  14-15 

Klectoken,  7,  10,  104 

Klexter,   4 


INDEX 


145 


Kligrapp,  4 

Klokann,    4 

Klokard,  4 

Kloncilium,  3-4,   10 

Klonklave,  4-5,  130  n.6 

Klonversation,   18,  19 

Klonvokation,  3-4:  of  1922,  9-10;  of 
1924,  30-31,  35-36,  62,  64;  of  1939, 
106;  of  1944,  108;  of  1949,  114 

Kloran,  5 

Klorero,    97,    98 

Kludd,  4,   133  n.13 

Knight,  5 

Knights    of   the   Ku    Klux   Klan,    124 

Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  Ameri- 
ca, 115-16 

Know-Nothing    party,    64,    133    n.ll, 

136  n.4 

Knoxville,  Tennessee,  42,  109 

Kourier    Magazine,    88 

Ku  Klux  Klan:  creed  of,  19-25,  101; 
eligibility  for  membership  in,  14, 
132  n.2;  methods  of,  25-29;  offices 
of,  3-4,  6,  7,  9;  origins  of,  1-10; 
ritual  of,  4-5;  structure  of,  2-4; 
symbols  of,  1,  4 

Ku  Klux  Klan  of  Reconstruction  period, 

I,  2,  16-17,  18,  19,  132-33  n.9 

labor  unions,   102-04,   105,   112,   117, 

137  n.ll,  138  n.8 

La  Follette,  Robert  M.,  82-83,  137  nn. 

II,  12 

La  Fourche,  Lake,   Florida,  29 

Lakeland,  Florida,  119-20 

Lanier,  W.  J.,  51 

Lanier  University,   1,  23 

La  Paloma  night  club,  93 

Laredo,  Texas,  53 

Laurel   County,    Kentucky,   41 

League  of  Nations,  74,  76-77,  79,  85, 

86,  136  n.8 
Lewis,  John  L.,  102,  104 
Liberty,  New  York,   110 
Likins,  W.  M.,  15 
Lions  Club,  Mobile,  Alabama,  89 
Little  Rock,  Arkansas,  49-50,  139  n.8 
Littlejohn,   F.   M.,   69 
local  chapters;  see  Klan  (local  chapter) 


London,  Kentucky,  41 

Long,   Huey  P.,    105 

Los  Angeles,    109,    110,    112,    124 

Lougher,  E.  H.,  32,  35 

Louisiana,  13,  29,  51,  115,  121,  122, 

124,    133  n.14 
Louisville  Courier-Journal,  117 
Louisville,  Kentucky,  42,  133  n.2 
Lowden,   Frank   O.,    74 
Lowrey  &  Lowrey,  69 
Luverne,  Alabama,  10,  66 
Lyons,  Robert  W.,  99 

McAdoo,   William    C,    62-63,    79-80, 

81-82,  85,  98-99 
McBrayer,  Charles  H.,  33 
McCall,  Charles  C,  65-66,  134  n.9  ch. 

V 
McCall,  H.  C,  10 
McClelland,  L.  F.,  47 
McDowell,  Charles  S.,  138  n.6 
McGoy,   William  F.,  43 
McMahon,  Peter,  28 
Macon,  Georgia,   110 
McQuinn,  J.  E.,  69 
McShane,  Andrew  J.,  51 
Madison,   Wisconsin,    113 
Madison  Square  Garden,  64,  76 
Madisonville,  Kentucky,  41 
Mahoney,  William  James,  24,  60 
Maine,    82 

Manchester,  Georgia,   116 
Manning,  A.  T.  W.,  41 
Marlboro,   Massachusetts,  92-93 
Marvin,  Z.  E.,  54,  71,  73,  80,  82 
Maryland,    13,    39,    90,   95,    106 
Mason  City,  Iowa,  28 
Masons,  Grand  Lodge  of  St.  Louis,  100 
Massachusetts,  64,  92-93 
Mattituck,  New  York,  93 
Mayneld,  Billie,  24-25 
Mayfield,  Earle  B.,  66-70,  73,  81,  134 

n.ll,  135  nn.15,  16 
Mayfield,  James  J.,  138  n.3  ch.  VIII 
Mekeel,  H.   Scudder,   108 
membership   of   Klan:     eligibility  for, 

14,   132  n.2;   incentives  to  joining, 

15-19;  numerical  strength  of,  5,  12, 


746 


THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 


13,  45,  66,  73,  91,  107,  109,  114, 
115-116,  117,  118,  122,  123,  131  n. 
24;  socio-economic  classes  of,  14- 
15,   16,  132  n.6 

Memphis,  Tennessee,  43,  133  n.4 

Memphis  Commercial- Appeal,  104-05, 
133  n.4 

Mer  Rouge,  Louisiana,  29,   133  n.14 

Methodist  Episcopal  Church  South, 
see  Methodists 

Methodists,  1,  91,  111,  120 

Miami,    28,   48,   88,    93,   96,    100-01 

Michigan,  13,  81,  102,  106,  109,  112 

Milledgeville,  Georgia,  110 

Milledgeville,  Georgia  Union  Recorder, 
110 

Miller,    Barry,    54 

Miller,  W.  D.,  56 

Milton,   George  Fort,  72,  85 

Mississippi,  13,  48-49,  81,  88,  112, 
115,  121,  132  n.4,  139  n.ll 

Mississippi  Valley  Domain  of  Klan,  3 

Missouri,  13,  14,  28,  30,  35,  62,  64, 
81,  85,  100,  107,  115,  137  n.l 

Mitchell,  E.  G.,  51 

Mobile,  Alabama,  5-6,  89,  119 

Montgomery,  H.  C,  130  n.9 

Montgomery,  Alabama,  47,  115,  119, 
121,   138  n.7 

Montreat,  North  Carolina,  111 

Moody,  Daniel,  72-73,   135  n.27 

Mooney,  C.  P.  J.,  133  n.4 

Moore,    J.    Johnson,    47 

Moore,  Jere,    110 

Moore,   R.   Walton,  41 

morality,  Klan  on,  10-11,  12,  16,  17, 
19,  24-25,  26,  27,  31,  32,  34,  39, 
51,  101,  114-15,  118;  see  also  boy- 
cotting, Klan's  use  of;  ostracism, 
Klan's  use  of;  terrorism,  Klan's  use 
of 

Morris,  William  Hugh,  115,  116,  118 

Morrison,    Cameron,    78 

motto  of  Klan,  see  "Non  Silba  Sed 
Anthar" 

Mt.  Kisco,  New  York,  93 

Mountain  Lakes,  New  Jersey,  93 

Moyer,  Charles  E.,  49 

Mullaly,  John  F.,  53 


Muncie,    Indiana,    106,    110 
Musgrove,    L.    Breckinridge,    138   n.3 

ch.  VIII 
Myersville,   Maryland,   39 

National  Association  for  the  Advance- 
ment of  Colored  People,    121,   122 

National  Kourier,  The,  30 

National  States'  Rights  party,  127 

Negroes,  13,  15,  40,  96,  110,  119,  131 
n.23:  Klan  and,  2,  7,  12,  13,  14,  15, 
17,  19-20,  22,  26,  30-31,  40,  42, 
44,  47-48,  100-01,  102,  106,  109, 
114,  116,  117,  119,  120-21,  122, 
123,  124 

New,  Fred,  117 

New  Deal,  102,  125 

New  Jersey,  13,  82,  89,  92,  93,  106, 
107,  110,  112,  113,  138  n.2  ch.  IX 

New  Orleans,  51 

New   Orleans   Times-Picayune,   8 

New  York,  13,  56,  58,  64,  74,  76-82, 
89,  91,  92,  93,  95-96,  102,  106,  107, 
110,  111,  112,  138  n.2  ch.  IX 

New  York  City,  58,  64,  76-82,  95-96 

New  York  Times,  43,  45,  64,  72,  81, 
95,   98,    104 

New  York  World,  7-8,  46,  81 

Newport  News,  Virginia,  40 

Newton,  C.  P.,  50 

"night-riding,"  12,  17,  28-29,  52,  65- 
66,  93-94,  101,  116-17,  118,  132 
n.6,     133    n.14 

Nixon,  Richard  M.,  126,  128,  139  n.10 

Nolan,  J.  Q.,  45 

"Non  Silba  Sed  Anthar,"  5,   130  n.8 

Norfolk,    Virginia,    40 

Norfolk  Journal  and  Guide,  46 

Norman,  Mose,  48 

North  American  Review,  19 

North  Carolina,  34,  44,  87,  91,  111, 
116,  120-21,  134  n.5 

North  Carolina,  University  of,  117 

Oberholtzer,    Madge,    12 

Ocoee,  Florida,  48 

O'Conor,    Herbert    R.,    95 

offices  of  Klan,  3-4,  6,  7,  9,  14-15,  19 


INDEX 


147 


Official  Monthly  Bulletin  of  Mississip- 
pi Klan,  88 

Ogden,   Utah,   85-86 

O'Hara,   Gerald  P.,    105 

Ohio,  13,  25-26,  64,  74-75,  81,  86, 
89,  93,  102,  103,  107,  137  n.ll 

Oklahoma,  13,  29,  83,  90 

Oklahoma  City,  90 

Old  Age  Revolving  Pension  plan,  105 

Oliphant,  A.  Dayton,  113 

O'Neil,  Joseph  T.,  42 

Orange  County,  Florida,  48 

Oregon,    13 

Original  Ku  Klux  Klan,  124 

Original  Ku  Klux  Klan  of  the  Confed- 
eracy,   123-24 

Original  Southern  Klans,  Inc.,  117 

Original  Southern  Klans,  Inc.,  the 
Invisible  Empire,   116 

Orlando,  Florida,  96 

ostracism,  Klan's  use  of,  12,  27-28, 
118,   123 

Ousley,  Clarence,  67 

Outlook,  The,  15 

Overton,   Harold,    110 

Owen,  Robert  L.,  91 

Ozark  Klans,  115 

Paducah,  Kentucky,  42 

Paducah  News  Democrat,  42 

Paine,  Rowlett,  43 

Paonessa,  Alfred  A.,  112 

parades  of  Klan,  18,  19,  40,  44,  46,  47, 

52-53,  92,  93,  94,  96,  101,  104,  124, 

132  n.8 
Parker,  C.  L.,  117 
Pate,  Alton,   116 
patriotism  of  Klan,  see  Americanism, 

Klan  on 
Pattangall,  William  H.,  77 
Patterson,  Andrew  C,  65,  138  n.6 
Patterson,    John,    127 
Peale,  Norman  Vincent,  139  n.9 
Peddy,  E.  B.,  68 
Peekskill,  New  York,  92 
Pelley,  William  Dudley,   105 
Pelt,  J.  A.,  52 

Pennsylvania,   89,   92,    104,   106,    107 
Peoria,    Illinois,    100 


Pettie,  Virgil  C,  81 

Philadelphia,    104,    107 

philosophy,  of  Klan,  see  creed  of  Klan 

Pittsburgh   Post-Gazette,   96-97,   98 

Poling,  Daniel,  139  n.9 

politics:  Klan  on  participation  in,  22, 
30-36,  38,  49,  51-52,  54,  75;  Klan 
in  local,  38-57,  95-96,  99-101,  109, 
133-34  n.5,  134  n.5,  134  nn.9  ch. 
IV,  10  ch.  IV;  Klan  in  state,  38, 
56-73,  94-95,  97-99,  109,  119,  127, 
134  nn.6  ch.  V,  8  ch.  V,  9  ch.  V, 
10  ch.  V,  11,  135  nn.13,  14,  15, 
16,  17,  136  n.l,  138  nn.4,  7; 
Klan  in  national  politics,  12,  36, 
63,  64,  66,  73,  74-75,  76,  77-79, 
80-84,  86-91,  92,  94,  95,  124,  125- 
26,  127-29,  134  n.7  ch.  V,  136  nn. 
2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  9,  136-37  n.10,  137 
nn.  1,  2,  137-38  n.5 

Polk  County,  Georgia,  61 

Pollard,  Ramsey,  126 

Presbyterians,   27,   91,    111 

Presidential  election:  of  1924,  82-84, 
136-37  n.10;  of  1928,  12,  36,  41,  64, 
66,  73,  87-91,  92,  94,  95,  124-27, 
129,    137-38  n.5;   of   1960,    124-29 

Progressive  party  of  1924,  82-83,  137 
n.ll 

prohibition,  34,  51,  76,  86-87,  88,  89, 
91,  125,  134  n.2;  see  also  Eighteenth 
Amendment 

Propagation  Department,  6,  7,  40,  68 

Protestantism,  12,  15,  16,  19,  20,  23- 
24,  101,  106,  133  n.ll 

Protestants,  16,  91,  110-11,  120,  126, 
132  n.3,   133  n.12,   139  n.9 

Providence,    Rhode    Island,     107 

Province  of   Klan,   3,   4 

Pruitt,  E.  P.,  116-17 

Pulaski  County,  Arkansas,  49-50,  134 
n.10  ch.  IV 

Pulaski  County,  Kentucky,  41 

Putnam  County,  New  York,  93 

Raleigh,   North  Carolina,  44 
Raleigh  News  and  Observer,  133  n.5 
Ralston,  Samuel  M.,  82 
Ramsey,  H.  K.,  14 


748 


THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 


Randolph,  Hollins  N.,  81 

Raye,    Stanley,    51 

Realm  of  Klan,  3,  4,  7 

Reed,   James  A.,   86 

Republican  party,  36,  42,  67-68,  71, 

72,  80,  85,  94-95,  99,  135  n.2-5,  136 

n.l:  convention  of  1924,  74-75,  136 

n.2;  convention  of  1928,  85,  137  n.l; 

see  also  Presidential  elections 
Rhode  Island,   107 
Richards,  Thomas  F.,  29 
Richmond,  Virginia,  39,  40 
Ridley,  Caleb,  60 
righteousness,   Klan  on,  see  morality, 

Klan   on 
ritual  of  Klan,  3,  4-5,  17,  19,  92,  94, 

108,    117,    124 
River  Valley  Klans,  115 
Roanoke,  Virginia,  68 
Robertson,   Felix   D.,   70-71,   73,    135 

nn.21,  24 
Robinson,  Joseph  T.,  86-87,   137  n.2 
Rockland  County,  New  York,  93 
Rockmart,  South  Carolina,  45 
Rogers,   C.    M.,  89 
Rogers,  John  William,  53 
Roosevelt,   Eleanor,    117 
Roosevelt,   Franklin  D.,   93,  96,    102, 

125 
Roosevelt,  Franklin  D.,  Jr.,  125 
Roper,  Samuel  W.,  114-15,  116,  117- 

18,    122 
Rose,  John  E.,  Jr.,  40 
Roselle,  New  Jersey,  106 
Ruppenthal,   G.   J.,    119 
Russell,  Richard  B.,  60,   126 
Russell,  Richard  B.,  Jr.,  126 
Ryan,    Thomas    Fortune,    26 

Sachtjen,  Herman  V.,   113 

Sacramento,   27 

St.   Francis   County,   Arkansas,   50-51 

St.    Louis,    100 

St.  Petersburg,  Florida,  93 

Sanders,    J.    C,    51 

Savage,  Fred  L.,  9-10 

Savage,  Henry,   120 

Savings  Bonds,   U.S.,   107 

Sayce,  John,  55 


Schenectady,  New  York,   107 
Sea    Girt,    New    Jersey,    82 
Searchlight,   The,   59,   60 
Searcy  County,  Arkansas,  51 
Seashore   Klans,    115 
Seattle,   Washington,   33 
secret  service  of  Klan,  9 
segregation,  see  desegregation 
Senate,   77,    81,   96,    138   n.4:     Com- 
mittee on  Privileges  and  Elections, 

68-70,  81 
Share  the  Wealth  plan,  105 
Shelby  County,  Tennessee,  43-44 
Shelton,  Bob,  127 
Sherry,  Charles  A.,   39 
Silver  Shirt  Legion  of  America,    105 
Simmons,  Furnifold  McLendel,   91 
Simmons,  William  J.,  1-2,  3,  5,  6,  7, 

8-10,   11,   12,    19,   31,   35,  39,  46, 

58,  59,  63,  67,   117,   130  nn.l,  2, 

4,  6,  7,  8,  9,  131  nn.   15,   18,  2-0 
Sims,  Walter,  46,  134  n.9  ch.  IV 
Smith,  Alfred  E.,   12,  41,  64,  79-80, 

86-91,  92,  94,  95,   124-25,   137-38 

n.5 
Smith,   George  W.,  42 
Smith,  Gerald  L.  K.,  105 
Smith,  Robert  B.,  138  n.4 
"Solid  South,"  12,  55,  83,  91,  94,  127, 

128-29 
Somerset,  Kentucky,  41 
Somerville,  New  Jersey,  92 
South  Carolina,  28,  44-45,  94,  96,  103, 

111,  116,  120,  122,  123 
Southern     California,     University    of, 

109-10 
Southern   Governors   Conference,    127 
Southern  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan, 

117,  118,  119,  127 
Southern    Publicity    Association,    6-7 
Spinks,  Lycurgus,   115,   116,   139  n.4 
Sprigle,  Ray,  96-97,  98,   138  n.2  ch. 

VIII 
Star  Klans,  115 
Starke,  Florida,  100,  120 
Staunton,  Virginia,  41 
Steel  Workers  Organizing  Committee, 

103 
Steinhagen,  B.  A.,  52 


INDEX 


749 


Stephenson,  David  Curtis,  9-10,  11-12, 

99,    131   n.22 
Stone  Mountain,  1,  108-09 
Stoner,  J.  B.,  43,  133  n.3 
Straton,  John  Roach,  91 
Strickland,  Perry  E.,  124 
Strong,  Sterling  P.,  66-67 
structure  of  Klan,   2-4,   19 
Styles,    Hal,    100 
Summerville,  Georgia,  120 
Supreme  Court,  92,  96,  118,  119,  120, 

124 
symbols  of  Klan,  1,  4,  17 
Syracuse,  New  York,  89 

Talmadge,   Eugene,    109,    114 

Talmadge,  Herman,  109,  126 

Tammany   Hall,   88-89,   91,    125 

Tampa,  Florida,  96,  104 

Tate,  John,  43 

Taylor,    Edgar,    122 

Tenaha,    Texas,    28 

tenets    of    Klan,    see   creed    of    Klan 

Tennessee,  13,  42-44,  81,  91,  103, 
109,  112,  115,  122,  126,128,  133 
n.4,  139  n.6 

terrorism,  Klan's  use  of,  11,  12,  17, 
25,  28-29,  33,  38,  48,  49,  52,  53, 
55,  60,  61,  65-66,  93-94,  101,  110, 
112-114,  116-121,  123,  124,  128, 
132  n.6,  133  n.14;  see  also  "night 
riding" 

Terrors,  4 

Texas,  11,  13,  20,  22,  28,  36,  51-56, 
58,  66-73,  81,  85,  86-87,  91,  101, 
127,  135  nn.13,  14,  16,  21,  24, 
25,  27 

Textile  Workers  Union,   103,   104 

Thomas,  Cullen  F.,  67 

Thompson,  Ira  B.,  66 

Thompson,  M.  E.,  113 

Thurmond,    J.    Strom,    126 

Thwing,  Charles  F.,  74 

Tilden,   Samuel   J.,   88 

Tillman,   J.   N.,   51 

Toledo,  Ohio,  93 

Townsend,  Francis  E.,  105 

Travis  County,  Texas,  53,  55-56 

Trenton,    New   Jersey,    113 


Trenton,  South  Carolina,  28 
Truman,  Harry  S.,  100,  126 
Tully,  Wynn,  42 
Tulsa,   Oklahoma,   29 
Tuscaloosa  County,  Alabama,  127 
Twitty,  Peter  S.,  62 
Tyler,  Elizabeth,   6-7,  8,   10,   11,   12, 
58,  59,  63,  68 

Underwood,  Oscar  W.,  62,  64-65,  79, 

134  n.  8  ch.  V,  136  n.4 
Uniontown,  Pennsylvania,   106 
United  Klan,  117 
Upshaw,  William  D.,  59,  134  n.2 
Urbana,    Illinois,    107 
U.  S.  Klans,  Knights  of  the  Ku  Klux 

Klan,  122-23,  124,  127 
Utah,  85-86 

Valley  Stream,  New  York,  93 

Valparaiso  University,  23 

Van  Over,  M.  D.  L.,  92 

Van  Riper,  Walter  D.,  113,  138  n.2 

ch.  IX 
Van  Valkenburg,  F.  C,  69-70 
Vicksburg,  Mississippi,  49 
Virginia,  39-41,  68,  87-88,  91,  128 
voting:    Klan  on,  21-22,  30,  31,  32-33, 

34,    35,    133    n.l    ch.    Ill;    Klan's 

attempts  to  prevent  Negroes  from, 

31,  47-48,  100-01 

Wade,  John  W.,  51 

Wade,  Louis  D.,  130  n.9,  131  n.20 

Wahouma,  Alabama,  87 

Waldman,    Louis,    95-96 

Walker,  Clifford,  60,  61-62 

Walker,  Hugh  K.,  91 

Wallace,    George,    52 

Walsh,   Thomas  J.,  76,    136  n.7 

Warrensburg,    Missouri,    28 

Washington,    13,   33 

Washington,  D.  C,  63,  99,  105,  131 

n.14,    132    n.8,    139    n.9 
Washington,  D.C.  Fellowship  Forum, 

89 
Watcher  on  the  Tower,  33 
Watson,  James  E.,  75,  136  nn.  1,  2 


750 


THE  KU  KLUX  KLAN  IN  POLITICS 


Watson,  Thomas  E.,  59-60,   134  n.5 

ch.  V 
Weekly  News  Letter  of  Propagation 

Department,  40,  49 
West  Virginia,  13,  81,  125 
Westchester  County,   New  York,   93, 

102 
Westminster  Presbyterian  Church,  27 
Wheeler,  Burton  K.,  137  n.ll 
White,  Alma  Birdwell,  33-34,  88 
White  Citizens  Council,  121-22,  123, 

126,  128,  139  nn.5,  6 
Wiggins,    Joe,    44 
Will,  Arthur  T.,  42 
Williams,  L.  C,  44,   133-34  n.5 


Wilmot,  E.  P.,  67 

Wilson,    Woodrow,    41,    77,    80,    88 

Wisconsin,   83,   113 

Woman's  Christian  Temperance  Union, 

91,  125 
Women  of  the  Ku  Klux  Klan,  132  n.2 
Wood,    J.    O.,    64 
Woodward,  James  C,  46 
Worcester,    Massachusetts,    92 
World  War  I,  15-16 
World  War  II,  107,  108 
World's  Work,  65 

Yonkers,  New  York,  106 
Young  County,  Texas,  55